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.

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 3: Seek Comparative Data


Guideline: Formative assessments are a tool for teachers to gauge how well students are grasping the lessons being taught. Comparing results with other groups of students is difficult. Dialogue with colleagues teaching the same grade level and subject area can offer comparative insights into student understanding, strengths, and weaknesses. Reviewing summative test data available at a grade, school, district, or state-level may provide a perspective on student performance that can drive future classroom assessments.

Collaborative Assessment Conference

A Collaborative Assessment Conference is a way for a group of teachers to work as a group to review student work. As noted at this website, "the Collaborative Assessment Conference (CAC) provides a structure for groups of teachers to look closely at children's work, describe it, ask questions about it, and explore implications for instruction raised in the discussion."


Small Schools Project: Looking at Student Work

This resource from the Small Schools Project offers resources for teachers to use when reviewing student work. It explores how adult learning communities among teachers can be useful in assessing student work.

Consensus Scoring and Peer Planning

This article authored by Douglas Fisher, Diane Lapp, and James Flood, describes how teachers can "work together improve their understanding of content and performance standards, collaborate to assess student work, work together to plan instruction, and re-teach content as necessary."


Data Sources

This document contains links to national and state education data sources. The content may be useful to educators when developing a school profile.


Looking at Student Work

This link to the Looking at Student Work website provides teachers with resources for revieiwng student work.

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