Definition & Philosophy

What is assessment in education?  Assessment takes place when we gather and analyze information from various sources to understand and evaluate students’ knowledge and understanding, as well as their proficiencies and skills.  This process can take place via a wide variety of activities and formats.  Yet however assessment happens, the results should be used to guide and shape ongoing (and future) instruction.  In other words, we believe that assessment should be used to support students’ learning and growth, not simply to rank them or assign them scores or grades that might not lead to deeper learning.  Even summative assessments, including standardized testing, can be used to evaluate and re-consider what and how content and skills are taught.

Helpful information

PBS, through the Frontline program and companion website, has created a helpful and thoughtful provoking overview of assessment in our schools.  Even though this is a guide for parents, we think it can be a useful resource for educators as well.  Testing Our Schools:  A guide for parents


In this assessment section, we describe and provide links to numerous assessments and testing organizations.  Inclusion in these pages is not an endorsement by the Oakland Schools Literacy Team, but rather an attempt to provide basic information about commonly used assessments.  In general, we believe that many assessment packages and programs offer some amount of useful information, but we also feel that some of them are poorly designed and that many of them are misused.  In the end, any purchase of an assessment program should be preceded by careful deliberation and research.

For an analysis of different reading comprehension assessments for secondary level students, read Measure for Measure:  A critical consumer’s guide to reading comprehension assessments for adolescents, a report by the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy.