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Basics: Informal Classroom-Based Assessment

Administering informal assessments on a regular basis throughout the school year provides useful information that can help teachers to identify the individual strengths and weakness of each student — and most importantly, guide the next steps in instruction.

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Most schools require four types of formal assessmentscreening tests, diagnostic tests,  progress monitoring tools, and summative tests. Formal assessment should guide major educational decisions about student and program success.  

In addition to formal assessments, teachers should use ongoing informal assessments to examine the critical components of learning to read, spell, and write and to plan their daily instruction.  These can be teacher-created or from your school’s core reading program.

Informal assessment information can help you decide the following:

  • How to plan daily instruction so that student needs are met
  • How students should be grouped for instruction so that each student receives instruction at the right level of difficulty
  • If instruction is being delivered at the right pace
  • Which students need individual support
  • Which students can move faster
  • Whether my daily instruction is successful or not

What do I want to know about my students?

There are different informal assessment tools for assessing various components of reading. It’s important to ask yourself: “What do I want to know about my students? What do I want to assess?” These short articles can get you started:

Assessment chart

Download and print the PDF handout: Overview of Informal Reading Assessments.

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Browse our assessment resource library

Learn more about using assessments to inform instruction and monitor program through our articles, tips for parents, video, FAQs, and research briefs. Visit our Assessment and Evaluation section