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