Assessments can be categorized as formal – based on data and conclusions or informal – based on content and performance. Is one really better than the other? Of course, it depends. The type of assessment that is being used, must match the overall reason for giving the assessment. You can’t give a child a test to see how well their social skills are with other children. Well you can, but it wouldn’t be beneficial and you wouldn’t be able to draw the proper conclusions.
The observation piece that we so quickly forget about, can be one of the most important tools for consultants. There has been much discussion around the “hanging out” portion of the job. Some may see it as a waste of time, or unnecessary. We can learn so much about our clients this way. Not just individually, but in groups as well. We can draw on our own conclusions about what the team may be struggling with. This also allows for further communication with the coaches. As coaches, they aren’t always able to see everything that is going on with their athletes. We are able to provide objective observations and broaden the lines of communication.
Formal assessments are great for teachers to use to show parents and students where they are at in comparison to other students. This is more of a paper and pencil test. It is also helpful to see what a student’s level is in the beginning of the year and then compare that at the end of the year.
Formal and informal assessments are both useful, but in their own ways. It is important to recognize when one assessment should be used over the other.