The Classroom Assessment KnowledgeBase

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

Task 1: Consider Circumstances that Impact Formative Assessment


Guideline: Different circumstances may impact the development of a formative assessment. These factors include grade level, subject, students with special needs, and students who have limited English language proficiency. Each factor may affect the assessment's design or selection. The teacher needs to understand these factors and the impact they may have on how the assessment is developed or used.

Do's and Don'ts When Selecting Accommodations

This resource from Accommodations Manual: How to Select, Administer, and Evaluate Use of Accommodations for Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities provides a checklist on selecting accommmodations.

Planning for Classroom Assessment

This resource summarizes Chapter 4: Planning for Classroom Assessment of Assessment for the Diverse Classroom: A Handbook for Teachers from the Florida Department of Education. Though oriented toward exceptional students, the concepts addressed may be useful for teachers to apply generally.

Accommodations Manual

Developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers' Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards Assessing Special Education Students, this manual offers guidance on incorporating accommodations into the assessment process. Though intended for standardized tests, some of the content is applicable to formative assessment.


Accommodations and Modifications for English Language Learners

The resource summarizes Chapter 8: Accommodations and Modifications for English Language Learners, of the Illinois State Board of Education's Serving English Language Learners with Disabilities manual.


Differentiated Instruction

This link to the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials website offers an overview of differentiated instruction.


Ensuring Accuracy in Testing for English Language Learners

This Council of Chief State School Officers publication identifies the phases during test development and implementation when intervention for English language learners should occur. Though the guide is oriented to large-scale assessments, it is useful to the teacher who is developing or selecting formative assessments.


Integrated Vocabulary Instruction

This North Central Regional Educational Laboratory resource provides an overview of instructional concepts on vocabulary for students in grades K-5.


Overview of Assessment at the Secondary Level

Developed with funding from The Meadows Foundation and the Texas Education Agency, Effective Instruction for Middle School Students with Reading Difficulties: The Reading Teacher's Sourcebook offers middle school reading teachers an overview of research-based instructional approaches for teaching struggling readers. Chapter One: Overview of Assessment at the Secondary Level "provides an overview of the process of assessment for secondary struggling readers."

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