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

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

Task 2: Analyze Result Trends


Guideline: The results of a single assessment provide a snapshot in time. The results from many assessments given over a period of time show trends highlighting how well a student understands the subject matter and concepts taught. How well the teacher analyzes assessment results impacts the usefulness of the feedback given to the student.

Creating Assessments and Scoring Tools

This Maryland Department of Education resource offers an online workshop on how to develop good assessments and rubrics. Though oriented toward the Maryland state assessment system, the content may be useful for all teachers.


Looking Collaboratively at Student Work: An Essential Toolkit

This Coalition of Essential Schools toolkit focuses on bringing together people across the school community including teachers, parents, students, and outside visitors to look at student work.


Stop-Start-Continue Worksheet

This activity adapted from "A How To Guide For School Business Partnerships" is designed to help decision makers define what is and is not working within a project and what changes should be made to the plan.

Data Analysis: Analyzing Your State Assessment Data

This link is to the School Improvement in Maryland website's information on data analysis. Though intended for Maryland districts, the content may be useful to educators in other states.


Getting the Right Data

This article from the Virginia Department of Education's Training and Technical Assistance Center offers a four-step approach for using data in progress monitoring.

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