Assessment: An Integral Part of Instruction

by Carolyn Ito

Assessment is the process of gathering information to monitor progress and make educational decisions (Overton, 1996).  Educators monitor progress before, during, and after instruction to assess student understanding and adjust instruction as needed. 

Pre-instruction techniques:
  • Sponge - students respond to a prompt

  • pretests - students answer questions related to upcoming critical content

  • KWL - students write what they know and what they want to learn about a topic

During-instruction techniques:
  • questioning - teachers ask all students a variety of questions

  • think-alouds - students verbalize the process by which they arrived at an answer

  • journals/learning logs - students write reflections, conclusions, or processes

  • observation - teachers systematically look for emerging skills and new knowledge

Post-instruction techniques:
  • checklists of skills - teachers observe and record specific skills taught

  • quizzes/tests - students answer a variety of questions prepared by the teacher

  • error analysis - teachers group students' mistakes into categories 

  • rubric - teachers set the criteria for levels of performance

Assessment is a continuous process through which teachers judge student understanding and then make instructional decisions.  Many articles in this issue focus on assessment, including instructional assessment, vocational assessment, and SOL-related considerations.


Overton. T. (1996). Assessment in special education (2nd ed.).  New York:  Macmillan.

Date: February/March 2002