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 2: How to Use Formative Assessment


Guideline: Formative assessment is the "checking" part of the learning process. It enables teachers to determine how well students are grasping the concept or lesson and informs changes teachers may make to their teaching methods. It also shows students how well they are doing or where they need improvement. It is important for teachers to comprehend formative assessment within this context.

Examples of Formative Assessment in Practice

This link to the North Carolina Office of Public Instruction website provides examples of how to use formative assessment.


Formative Assessment: Helping Students Grow

This article from The Council Chronicle, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, emphasizes the feedback loop between the teacher and student and gives examples of formative assessments being used in the classroom.


Selecting and Administering Assessments

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 Two: Selecting and Administering Assessments reviews how different assessment tools can be used in the classroom.


The Best Value in Formative Assessment

This ASCD article by Stephen Chappuis and Jan Chappuis reviews how to use formative assessment.


Using Classroom Assessment to Improve Teaching

The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement's December 2006 newsletter offers an article with an overview of how to use classroom assessment to improve teaching.

Why Change Classroom Assessment?

This resource summarizes Chapter 1: Why Change Classroom Assessment from Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind. Developed by Dr. Lorna Earl and Dr. Steven Katz in collaboration with the Western and Northern Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Education, it "is intended to support teachers in assessing their students effectively, efficiently, and fairly, and to serve as a basis for professional learning." Chapter 1 provides a series of questions for teachers to consider when developing classroom assessments. Chapter 1 makes the case for how classroom assessment can be used to improve student learning and motivation.

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