An opportunity for teachers and students to check for understanding of new concepts, contents and skills. Formative assessment provides teachers with feedback on the effectiveness of their teaching, and helps teachers identify the "next steps" that students need to undertake. Formative assessments are "in-process" assessments.
- Meaningful Assessment
"In a Mastery Learning System, formative assessments play a critical role in generating the information and insights regarding what each student needs in order to move along the learning progression and demonstrate mastery of a set of skills or concepts.
At reDesign, we identify two key types of formative assessments: the quick checks for understanding that take place during or at the end of a lesson (e.g. conferences, thumbs up/down, exit slip), and task-related formative assessments or ""formative tasks"" that are checks for understanding that are layered into the curriculum that build toward the culminating summative assessment. These checks for understanding live at a higher level on Bloom's Taxonomy in the sense that they don't just check for recall/comprehension, they check for the capacity to apply and synthesize new learning application (e.g. cite evidence from the text). Examples of these formative tasks are built into reDesign's Performance Task Guides (http://www.redesignu.org/design-lab/performance-tasks).
Consider providing an exemplar instructional unit for your teaching team that demonstrates how you would like to see formative assessment embedded throughout each unit of study. This is an opportunity for you to model, and provide a rationale for, the frequency, placement and formats of the different types of formative assessments used -- whether quick checks or formative tasks.
It may also be helpful to put into place several school-wide formative assessment types and/or protocols that students will know to expect, such as a daily exit slip, or a certain type of gateway formative assessment that always precedes a performance task and unlocks a student's access ""just in time.""
Finally, as with diagnostic assessments, if your teachers create their own formative assessments, try to set up a school-wide infrastructure for storing and sharing assessment banks so that this work will not have to be duplicated in the future.
Explore the Learning Activities section of our Design Lab to identify checks for understanding, reflection and synthesis activities that can help you gather critical, immediate data about student learning."
Tips for a Short Implementation Time-Line
Formative assessment is difficult to do well. In a perfect world, it would occur every day. In a short timeline it's important to support staff in developing the skills to provide students with formative assessment opportunities, AND to collect and analyze the data from the assessments as part of their day-to-day planning.