Interim vs. Formative Assessments
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Interim vs. Formative Assessments

What is the difference between the Interim and Formative Assessments for grades 3–HS ELA and Math?

Interim Assessments:

  1. Adaptive assessments that measure the breadth of the grade-level standards.
  2. Scores are reported in scale scores and proficiency levels that represent the student’s performance at that time for their grade-level standards and can be used to indicate how well a student has mastered the standards for that grade and content area.
  3. It is recommended that each Interim assessment be administered twice per year per student with significant instructional time between administrations so that change in standards mastery can be viewed through the Longitudinal reports.


Formative Assessments:

  1. Fixed-form assessments that measure an area or a reporting category within a grade-level-standard set. (Example: Numbers & Operations in math and Informational Text in ELA)
  2. Reported results represent a student’s performance in that area of the standards at that time.
  3. Scores are reported in an overall item score (such as 8/10) and a percentage, as well as information about how student(s) performed on each item. Standards for each item are viewable, to help inform the educator of areas of strengths and areas that may require more attention.
  4. There are typically 3 forms for each Formative Assessment, so students can be assessed on the same content with unique forms over time. To avoid item repetition, do not administer the same form to a student more than once. Longitudinal reports are available once a student has taken more than one form in a reporting category.


How should my District use the Formative and Interim Assessments in ClearSight?

Interim assessments are intended to provide educators with information on how a student is tracking towards overall grade level mastery in a particular content area. We recommend that Interim tests be administered 2 times a year and a with a significant amount of instructional time between the administrations. For example, an Interim test could be administered in the fall and then again in the early spring. This would allow an educator to view learning made towards grade level standards and also provide time for re-teaching or remediation before the summative assessment. 


Formative assessments focus on a specific topic like Numbers & Operations in Mathematics and Informational Text in English Language Arts (ELA). These assessments are intended to provide information on content unit mastery rather than grade level mastery. There are typically 3 Formative forms for each topic. An educator could use a Formative form, such as Form 1, as a pre-teaching assessment, to determine what students already know about a topic and how to focus instructional time. The educator could then use another form, such as Form 2 or 3, for that content unit to assess mastery at the end of the unit. If the unit is taught early in the school year and the educator would like to see how much information has been maintained, the educator could administer a different form later in the school year to track retention or loss. 

How many premade Formative and Interim assessments are in ClearSight, and how many items are included in each assessment?

In general, the Formative Assessments have 3 forms for each topic/reporting category. Formative forms contain between 6 and 22 items per form. The Description of ELA Formative Tests and the Description of Math Formative Tests resources provide more information about the available forms per grade.

The Interim Assessments for grades 3–HS are adaptive tests that contain between 35 to 45 items for each administration and should be administered twice, per student, typically after significant amounts of instruction have occurred.

How much time does it take a student to complete each type of assessment?

  • Formative Assessments are untimed and are intended to be completed in one class period. Refer to these documents for more information about Formative forms:
  • Interim assessments are untimed and are intended to be completed in one class period.