The Classroom Assessment KnowledgeBase

The Classroom Assessment KnowledgeBase is an online resource for state departments of education to use as part of their professional development efforts with districts and schools. Organized around five elements, it brings together concepts, how-to guidance, tools, and resources about classroom assessment.

Task 2: Establish the Purpose of the Formative Assessment(s)


Guideline: Formative assessment is a tool used by teachers to provide feedback to students about how well they have grasped a specific concept or lesson. As such, it is important the purpose of each assessment be defined clearly so teachers and students have a common understanding of its intent.

A Descriptive Analysis of State-Supported Formative Assessment Initiatives in New York and Vermont

This document provides links to a Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast and Island report examining formative assessment initiatives in New York and Vermont. The provided URL links are to a report summary and the complete report.


Formative Assessment Strategies

This link to the Data Use for Improving Learning website provides an overview of the formative assessment strategies in graphic form.


Integrating Assessment With Instruction

Developed by Education Northwest, formerly the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Toolkit98 is designed to assist teachers to become better assessors of student learning. Chapter 2 addresses Integrating Assessment With Instruction. The chapter offers insights on the relationship between assessment and instruction. Bringing the two together defines the purpose for classroom assessment.


Is Formative Assessment Losing Its Meaning?

In this August 2005 EdWeek article, Stephen Chappuis of the Assessment Training Institute warns against homogenizing the concept of formative assessment. He points out formative assessment is more than just more frequent testing.

The Formative Purpose: Assessment Must First Promote Learning

This presentation, given by Dylan Wiliam at the 2005 Council of Chief State School Officers National Conference on Large Scale Assessment, explains the purpose of formative assessment.

Element 1: Determine the Goals of the Formative Assessment

Purpose: Developing effective formative assessments begins with an understanding of the fundamentals. These include being knowledgeable about the basic concepts, being able to define "formative," and establishing goals and objectives for formative assessments. Element 1 outlines these tasks and offers resources for the classroom teacher to gain such understanding.

Activity 1: Understand the Basic Concepts of Formative Assessment

Activity 2: Define Formative Assessment

Activity 3: Determine the Objectives for the Assessment

Element 2: Design or Select the Assessment

Purpose: Assessments used in the classroom can be designed locally by teachers or selected from any number of commercial or other professional sources. Regardless of an assessment's origin, teachers must first plan what they intend to accomplish with the assessment. Upon doing so, they can determine whether a pre-existing or new assessment will best meet their needs.

Activity 1: Plan the Assessment

Activity 2: Evaluate Pre-existing Assessments

Activity 3: Develop Own Assessment

Element 3: Administer the Assessment

Purpose: Administering assessments includes conducting and scoring. Conducting the assessment addresses the when, where, and how of doing so. Scoring the assessment focuses on the scoring rubric, determining individual scores, and analyzing the results. Both are essential parts of administering the assessment.

Activity 1: Conduct the Assessment

Activity 2: Score the Assessment

Element 4: Understand and Interpret the Assessment Results

Purpose: When used properly, assessment results enhance instruction. It is incumbent upon teachers to understand, know how to interpret, and explain the results effectively to their students, parents, and other district and school staff members.

Activity 1: Produce and Review Assessment Results

Activity 2: Inform and Collect Feedback from Constituencies

Element 5: Make Adjustments in Instruction and Assessment

Purpose: Good assessments provide the basis for making adjustments in instruction as well as future assessments. Assessment results show teachers where changes need to be made in instructional approaches for groups of students or individual students. The assessment outcomes also show students what they need to do to improve their learning. Changes to instruction based on assessment results complete the learning cycle.

Activity 1: Make Adjustments to Instruction

Activity 2: Make Adjustments to the Assessment