Teachers' assessment tools are an important part of judging the capabilities, progress and development of students. Assessment tools help teachers judge how much a student knows at the beginning of a school year, semester or subject. Assessment tools also help track progress and inform the teacher when the subject matter has been adequately learned by the students. Teachers' assessment tools come in various forms, including homework, tests, interviews, oral reports, papers and instructor observation. Teachers' assessment tools can be formative, summative, objective and subjective.

Formative Assessment

students taking placement tests
students taking placement tests

Formative assessment tools are used to evaluate a student at the beginning or middle of a class, semester or subject. Placement tests, interviews and teacher observation and feedback are examples of formative assessment tools. Formative assessment tools are designed to help a teacher understand a student's progress. Formative assessment tools are not graded. They are intended solely to guide a student to mastery of the given subject and inform the teacher where she needs the student to focus.

Summative Assessment

teacher handing out graded papers
teacher handing out graded papers

Summative assessment tools are used to gauge the outcome of the learning process. They focus on the curriculum presented during the learning unit and are used to find out whether or not a student was effectively taught a particular subject. A graded test, final exam, quiz, thesis paper and midterm exam are all examples of summative teachers' assessment tools. Summative tools should be designed to reflect the information given in the course. Unlike formative tools, they are designed to reveal what already has been learned during the course of a particular educational unit. Only summative assessment tools should be graded.

Objective Assessment

student filling out multiple choice quiz
student filling out multiple choice quiz

Teacher's assessment tools, whether formative or summative, can be further divided into two other categories: objective and subjective. Objective assessment tools have a clearly defined right and wrong answer. They are used to assess a student's knowledge of particular facts and figures that are universal. Examples of objective assessment tools are true/false and multiple-choice questions. Math problems are almost always objective assessment tools, as they leave little room for interpretation. Objective assessment tools are the easiest to design and grade and, therefore, are the more common type of assessment tool.

Subjective Assessment

student working on essayquestion
student working on essayquestion

Subjective assessment tools require a little more creativity and opinion on the part of the student. These are questions, papers or tests that rely on the presentation of arguable material. Essay questions, research papers and argumentative speeches are examples of subjective assessment tools. They can often reveal more than an objective assessment tool because they allow for more than just memorization on the part of the student. The student's tastes, personality and approach to education can more effectively be observed with subjective assessment tools. Objective and subjective teachers' assessment tools often are used in conjunction, such as a test that has a section of true/false questions and then an essay question at the end.