Formative Assessment

Definition 

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.

Features 

  • Meaningful Assessment

Designer's Tips 

"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.

Curated Resources: This collection of resources from the field includes models and exemplars, as well as “DIY” guidance to facilitate your exploration of this term. 

Understanding Sanborn's Grading and Reporting System: A Guide for Parents & Students

Description 

Sanborn (New Hampshire) Regional High School developed this guide for students and parents to provide a detailed explanation of how students are graded and progress within Sanborn's mastery-based system. Included is a sample report card, which other schools and designers may be able to use as a model.

Resource Type 

  • School-Developed Resources

Publishing Organization 

Sanborn School District

Type of Organization 

  • School or District

Terms 

Graduation Plan
Promotion Plan
Rating System
Formative Assessment
Summative Assessment
Grading & Reporting System

Nutmeg Education

Description 

Nutmeg Education is a free tool for teachers to create formative and summative assessments tied to the Common Core State Standards. Teachers select the grade level and standard, then add test items from a bank of questions. Students recieve feedback on their performance, along with practice questions and links to resources, while teachers get reports of student performance.

Resource Type 

  • Website

Publishing Organization 

Nutmeg Education

Type of Organization 

  • For-Profit

Terms 

Formative Assessment
Summative Assessment
Grading & Reporting System

Making Mastery Accessible: Mapping Backwards from the Tasks Required of College Freshmen

Description 

This PowerPoint explains how Schools for the Future organizes its performance tasks to align with the tasks assigned to college freshmen.

Authors 

Antonia Rudenstine

Resource Type 

  • Presentation

Publishing Organization 

Schools for the Future, reDesign

Type of Organization 

  • reDesign

Terms 

Summative Assessment
Formative Assessment
Evidence Map
Assessment Pathway

Assessing Learning: Students at the Center

Description 

This paper examines five defining qualities of student-centered assessment and underscores its importance as part of a balanced system of formative, interim, and summative assessments that, taken together, provide useful detailed information to inform learning, instruction, decision making, and policy. Several useful student-centered assessment resources can be found on the bottom of the page, including a collection of videos.

Authors 

Heidi Andrade, Kristen Huff, Georgia Brooke

Resource Type 

  • Report

Publishing Organization 

Jobs for the Future

Type of Organization 

  • Non-Profit

Terms 

Diagnostic Assessment
Formative Assessment
Performance Task
Performance Assessment

Todd County Learning Targets: Mastery Learning in a High School Math Classroom

Description 

This video offers an unusually detailed view of a teacher using learning targets in a competency-based setting. Among the nuggets are how she helps students decide when they are ready to take a shot at demonstrating proficiency on a particular set of standards through some type of evidence.

Authors 

Jessica Addison

Resource Type 

  • Video

Publishing Organization 

Todd County, Kentucky

Type of Organization 

  • School or District

Terms 

Demonstrations
Formative Assessment
Asynchronous Learning
Flexibly-Paced Learning
Grouping Plan
Learning Progressions
Learning Targets