Early Learning


The Office of Early Learning is committed to best practices in instruction and assessment for all students.

Defining Assessment

The New York State Education Department is developing shared definitions for assessment and assessment practices. In conversations around assessment, it is vital to have shared understandings in order to move forward. NYSED’s working definitions of assessment are as follows:

  • Diagnostic Assessment: Diagnostic assessment provides a teacher with student information on the prior knowledge and skills a student brings to a learning experience and the student’s continuous development in the knowledge and skill areas. Diagnostic assessment may identify strengths and specific learning needs of individual students and/or groups of students, and is used by the teacher to adapt and/or modify instruction.

  • Formative Assessment: A process used by teachers and students during instruction involving students that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students' achievement of intended instructional outcomes. Examples of formative assessment may include, but are not limited to, student observation, questioning, and student peer and self-assessment.

  • Summative Assessment: Assessment that is given to students at the end of a defined period of learning (e.g., lesson, unit, semester, quarter, year) to gain measurable data on student achievement. Summative assessments may include, but are not limited to, end-of-chapter tests, end-of-term tests, district benchmark exams, and New York State exams.



Last Updated: October 29, 2015