In education, the term assessment
refers to the wide variety of methods or tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, or educational needs of students.
While assessments are often equated with traditional tests-especially the standardized tests
developed by testing companies and administered to large populations of students-educators use a diverse array of assessment tools and methods to measure everything from a four-year-old's readiness for kindergarten to a twelfth-grade student's comprehension of advanced physics. Just as academic lessons have different functions, assessments are typically designed to measure specific elements of learning-e.g., the level of knowledge a student already has about the concept or skill the teacher is planning to teach or the ability to comprehend and analyze different types of texts and readings. Assessments also are used to identify individual student weaknesses and strengths so that educators can provide specialized academic support
, educational programming, or social services. In addition, assessments are developed by a wide array of groups and individuals, including teachers, district administrators, universities, private companies, state departments of education, and groups that include a combination of these individuals and institutions.