Categories of Evaluation

Different methods of evaluation are needed to truly assess how much your students are learning. Learn here the different types of evaluation you can use in the classroom. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable.
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Updated on: January 25, 2007
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Anecdotal Records

As I alluded to earlier, evaluation is not a “once-and-done” process. Rather, it occurs over time and tracks a student's development and competence over many days, weeks, or months. Anecdotal records, or narrative descriptions of students' behavior and academic performance, can be some of the most valuable evaluation tools available. Through anecdotal records, you can keep a running record of each individual student to determine likes and dislikes, advancement or regression, and growth and development.


Anecdotal records are observational notes a teacher takes about a specific student's performance or behavior.

Expert Opinion

Purchase several sheets of self-adhesive mailing labels and a clipboard. Identify the four to five students you will be observing on a particular day, and write each of their names and the date in the corner of separate mailing labels. As you walk around the room during a lesson, jot down observational notes for each student on his or her mailing label (use more than one label if necessary). At the end of the day, remove each student's label and place it on a sheet of paper you then store in the student's folder. This way you can transfer your observations to students' folders quickly and can easily keep track of each student's progress in a chronological fashion.

By their nature, anecdotal records are subjective assessments of students. However, they have the advantage of “tracking” students over many occasions and many learning opportunities. In this way, they serve as an accurate record of performance that the teacher can share with administrators and parents. Here are some guidelines for using anecdotal records:

  • Don't try to write a description of each student's behavior and performance every day. Identify four or five students a day, and concentrate on them.

  • Keep your comments short and to the point. It's not necessary to write long, involved sentences about what you observe. To keep the notes short, invent your own method of shorthand.

  • Maintain a file folder on each student. Store a student's anecdotal record in his or her folder at the end of the day.

  • Record only what you saw and not the subjective reasons you think may have caused the behavior.

  • Plan time at the end of the day to discuss your observations and anecdotes with each identified student. Let the students know what you have observed, and provide them with an opportunity to react and ask pertinent questions.


Use of a predesigned checklist enables you to gauge students' progress against a predetermined set of observational criteria. As you watch students participate in a project or activity, you can check off items according to how those students perform or behave. This data is similar in some respects to the information gleaned via anecdotal records; however, it does provide a series of constants against which all students can be assessed.

One form of checklist has students' names listed down the left-hand side of a grid with the specific behaviors or skills listed across the top. As you observe a behavior in each student, you can place a check next to that student's name.

Here's an example of a checklist that could be used as part of an elementary science lesson to assess process skills:

1. _________________________________________________
2. _________________________________________________
3. _________________________________________________
4. _________________________________________________
5. _________________________________________________
A = Observing E = Measuring
B = Classifying F = Predicting
C = Inferring G = Experimenting
D = Communicating

It's important to remember that the best kind of checklist is one you create specifically for a lesson, a group of students, or a specific set of objectives. Teacher-created checklists are far more useful (and specific) than commercial ones.

Excerpted from

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher
Anthony D. Fredericks, Ed.D.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher © 2005 by Anthony D. Fredericks. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.
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