Last modified on 5 March 2013, at 20:20

Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Performance Assessment and Rubrics/Secondary English

Secondary English AssessmentEdit

by Lindsay K. SimmonsEdit

Learning Objectives Of ReaderEdit

  • Comprehend examples of Secondary English assessments
  • Understand the assignments used in each type of assessment described
  • Understand different ways to assess a student in Secondary English


Secondary English is definitely not one of the easier subjects to assess. There could be several different answers for one assignment and it is up to the teacher to decipher those answers according to his or her rubric. History, science and math are easier in the sense that there is always one answer. English, especially secondary, allows for multiple answers, all differing. Although memorization and comprehension is used in all subjects, it lends itself more to the sciences and history compared to secondary English. Reading comprehension, interpretation and writing are somewhat harder to assess because students create the pieces of work and that work is graded via a general rubric the teacher has created.

What are assessments and how are they utilized?Edit

Formative Assessment examples:

• Anecdotal records

• Quizzes & essays

• Diagnostic tests

• Lab reports

Summative Assessment examples:

• Final Exams

• Statewide exams (SOL)

• National exams

• Entrance Exams (SAT, ACT, GRE)

Performance Assessment examples:

• Conducting and creating a science experiment

• Giving a speech

• Writing a Research paper

• Operating machinery or equipment, i.e., photography or a computer program

(Classroom Assessment: Basic Concepts, 2009)

There are three common assessments used by educators in the classroom; summative, formative and performance. Summative assessments are usually given periodically throughout a school year to determine at a particular point in time what students know and do not know. A lot of students and educators reference standardized testing, end-of-unit tests and end-of-chapter tests with summative assessments. The teacher is informed of the students' progress and learning at the end of a lesson plan with the summative assessment. They help evaluate the effectiveness of programs, alignment of curriculum, or student placement in specific programs. They are too far down the road to be used in classroom learning adjustment. Summative assessments are typically used after the classroom has taken a number of formative assessments.

Formative assessments inform both teachers and students about student understanding at a point when timely adjustments can be made, unlike summative assessments. They are typically associated with practice tests, quizzes and group work. They require a lot of student-teacher communication and interaction to ensure the student is learning and understanding the curriculum before they take the summative assessment. According to Robert Stake, "When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative; when the guests taste the soup, that's summative," (Earl, Lorna, 2003).

The third most common assessment used in education today is called the performance assessment. Teachers use this type of assessment to discover how a student, "understands and applies knowledge," (Coyle, G., 2009). "They can be used to evaluate reasoning, products, and skills that can be observed and judged using specific criteria. Tasks that have more than one acceptable solution often lend themselves well to a performance based assessment," (Coyle, G., 2009). Performance based assessments are being utilized more and more with students who show ineffective progression on standardized testing. A student who doesn't perform well on the SAT and ACT, isn't necessarily behind in education; they just might not test well. "Many states are incorporating performance-based assessments into their standardized tests or adding assessment vehicles such as student portfolios and presentations as additional measures of student understanding. These rigorous, multiple forms of assessment require students to apply what they're learning to real world tasks," (How Should We Measure Student Learning?: The Many Forms of Assessment, 2008).

Listed below are other well-known assessments used in education today; the objective assessment, subjective assessment, self assessment and interactive assessment.

  • "Objective assessments: Usually multiple choice, true false, short answer, have correct answers. These are good for testing recall of facts and can be automated.
  • Subjective assessments: The teacher's judgment determines the grade; essay tests. Essay tests take longer to answer, longer to grade and therefore only include a small number of questions, focusing on complex concepts.
  • Self assessments: Assignments that provide for quick student feedback. They help the learner check if they have mastered a topic, provide opportunity to measure learning progress, are usually voluntary and may allow multiple attempts, inform the learner, but not the teacher.
  • Interactive assessments: Designed to allow learner's to perform a task. Can be graded or not. Examples: students could conduct a virtual experiment rather than an experiment in a physical laboratory, language software might have sophisticated speech recognition software to provide feedback about pronunciation, creation of an online tool, such as a virtual instrument. Students could perform a song, and the software provides feedback about accuracy and timing."
  • (MSU, Virtual University Design and Technology, 2007).

Ways to assess Secondary EnglishEdit

English teachers are advised to always give encouraging feedback along with their suggestions. Handing back a student's work with red marks scribbled all over their assignment isn't encouraging for future assignments. "Informative feedback should be provided rather than just a mark or grade. In addition to identifying areas where improvement should be made, teachers can write constructive and encouraging comments, as these motivate students to do well," (Curriculum Development Council and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, 2007). There is no one "universal" way to grade an English assignment, each assignment is different.

Different works equals different grading:

  • "When assessing an oral presentation, the emphasis can be put primarily on content and fluency.
  • When going through book reports, the focus can be upon learners’ ideas and personal responses.
  • When marking compositions, it is advisable to provide learners with comprehensive feedback on content, accuracy, appropriateness, presentation and organization."
  • (Curriculum Development Council and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, 2007).

Teaching secondary English is an everyday challenge. Educators are constantly creating new ways to assess the children in their classes. Why? Because they want to involve their students and ensure that everyone is learning. Students in high school today are children of the Digital Age; they expect everything fast and are very hands-on learners. In the article, "Beyond Reading Check Quizzes," by Diane Vanaskie Mulligan, a veteran high school English teacher in Massachusetts, we are given several examples of creatively assessing a high school English class. Mulligan says, "By shifting the focus from making students prove they've done their homework to helping them engage with texts, teachers can set students up for success," (2008). Participation in structured discussions, one paragraph responses and "the old-fashioned" reading journal are just a couple of ways to heighten student interaction and grades without quizzes and tests, (Mulligan, 2008). Not only does this aid the teacher in the amount of work they are required to grade, it also gives the students the ability to learn creatively.

Another great way to assess a student in secondary English is through student portfolios and their development. A portfolio can be started at a young age; either in middle school and carried through high school or as a freshmen in high school. A portfolio can show a teacher and a student the progression and learning curve over a number of years. It's good for either short or long term use in the classroom and should include all written work, written assessments and published work, (Streich, 2008). "Properly maintained portfolios contain student work that assists curricular evaluation, demonstrates individual student progress, and can be used in student placement," (Streich, 2008). Students can also use their portfolios to gain admittance into advanced placement classes in college along with entrance into that university.

Check this site out! It lists and describes the Stands of Learning requirements according to the Department of Education for Secondary English, grades 9-12. [1]

Secondary English Assessment vs Math & Science AssessmentEdit

Assessing a student in English class is much different than assessing a student in math or science. The biggest difference between English, math and science assessments is the ability to list one or more answers. In English you are expected to use your mind creatively. Students are expected to overly develop the plotline in an essay and are authorized to act dramatic while reading a Shakespeare play outloud in class. In math and science there is almost always one single answer, never any grey area. Unlike math and science, English allows students to cross into a lot of grey area depending on the type of assignment. Another key point that differentiates the two areas is "do-over's." In a typical English class, students are allowed to turn in rough drafts and outlines of projects or assignments before receiving a final grade. In science and math, students are taught the lesson, they may have one or two homework or class work assignments and then they are tested. There are no "do-over" chances.

Secondary English Assignments vs. Math & Science AssignmentsEdit

Different Types of Assignments

English: Reading & Writing

  • Essays
  • Vocabulary work either individual or in pairs
  • Creative writing
  • Poetry or writing portfolios
  • Collaborative research papers
  • Grammar worksheets
  • Collaborative book reports
  • Group discussions about literary topics (4 students to a group)

Math & Science

  • Data Analysis
  • Algebra
  • Geometry,
  • Chemistry, periodic table of elements
  • Word problems
  • Factors, sums, multiples
  • Linear equations
  • Statistics
  • Lab reports


No matter the subject you are assessing, assessment is always hard. Your job as a teacher is to honestly assess each student in your classroom. Teachers must have the ability to differentiate between their students and the types of assessments that work for them and that particular assignment. Assessing secondary English is definitely a challenge, but so is math and science assessment. They differ in the types of assessments used and how a teacher assess the assignment.

Quiz Time!Edit

1. According to the article, what is an example of a secondary English assessment assignment?

a. Oral Presentation
b. Creating a science experiment
c. Research paper
d. Both A & B

2. Mrs. Martin, a 12th grade English teacher, has assigned a written response essay to her students. The topic of choice is up to them as long as it discusses a topic regarding William Shakespeare's Hamlet, which they just, finished reading. What kind of assessment is this?

a. Objective
b. Self Assessment
c. Subjective
d. Interactive

3. What can a student place in a portfolio?

a. Anything, as long as it's their personal work.
b. Only graded, approved, written assignments
c. Items from their senior year of high school
d. Tests, quizzes, essays and papers

4. Mr. Ray, an 11th grade English teacher, has placed his students in groups and assigned each a number of essays, articles and poems that need to be laid out and arranged for the junior class newspaper. He has assigned his students the task of design, lay-out and organization via the computer program, Adobe InDesign. They have until the end of their two-hour block to complete this. What kind of assessment is this?

a. Formative Assessment
b. Self-Assessment
c. Summative Assessment
d. Interactive Assessment


Curriculum Development Council and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, (2007). English Language Education Key Learning Area. pgs 117,118.

MSU, Virtual University Design and Technology, (2007). Teaching and Learning: Types of Assessments.

Classroom Assessment: Basic Concepts.

Earl, Lorna, (2003). Assessment as Learning: Using Classroom Assessment to Maximise Student Learning. "Thousand Oaks, CA, Corwin Press".

Coyle, G. (2005). Performance based assessment. B. Hoffman (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Technology.

Edutopia Staff, (2008). How Should We Measure Student Learning?: The Many Forms of Assessment. "Edutopia: What works in public education, The George Lucas Educational Foundation".

Streich, Michael, (2008). Portfolios Gauge Progress & Growth of Students, Short and Long Term Benefits of a Lifetime Portfolio Program in HS.

Mulligan, Diane Vanaskie, (2008). Beyond Reading Check Quizzes, Assessment in the High School English Classroom.


1. d

2. c

3. a

4. d