Formative assessment is the lived, daily embodiment of a teacher's desire to refine practice based on a keener understanding of current levels of student performance, undergirded by the teacher's knowledge of possible paths of student development within the discipline and of pedagogies that support such development.
Formative Assessment That Truly Informs Instruction
See the new "Formative Assessment That Truly Informs Instruction," written by the NCTE Task Force on Assessment and approved by the NCTE Executive Committee October 21, 2013 (also in a printable booklet format)
Listen as Cathy Fleischer and Scott Filkins, members of the NCTE Task Force on Assessment, talk about formative assessment and this new statement (Part 1 and Part 2)
"A Formative Assessment System for Writing Improvement," "A Better Grading System: Standards-Based, Student-Centered Assessment," and other articles in "Knowing Better: Examining Assessment," the September 2013 English Journal, and
"Feed-Forward: Linking Instruction with Assessment," the December 2013 Voices from the Middle (to come in late November)
Excerpt from Formative Assessment That Truly Informs Instruction:
Choosing a Formative Assessment Stance
As school decision makers are poised to select new assessments, we urge them to choose a path that supports a formative assessment stance. Teachers deserve protected time and quality support as they learn to observe closely and analyze deeply; students deserve a classroom context that allows teachers to do this. Over time, this professional development raises the quality of teaching and, in turn, the level of student learning. The more teachers can see and understand what students are doing, the better they can support those students in their learning.
Beyond that, decision makers can critically analyze what authentic formative assessment is and is not. Keeping in mind the following chart, teachers and administrators together can choose and create tools and strategies that will truly inform practice, support students, and improve learning.
| Highlight the needs of each student || View all students as being, or needing to be, at the same place in their learning|
| Provide immediately useful feedback to students and teachers || Provide feedback weeks or months after the assessment|
| Occur as a planned and intentional part of the learning in a classroom||Always occur at the same time for each student|
| Focus on progress or growth ||Focus solely on a number, score, or level|
| Support goal setting within the classroom curriculum || Occur outside of authentic learning experiences|
| Answer questions the teacher has about students’ learning || Have parameters that limit teacher involvement|
| Reflect the goals and intentions of the teachers and the students || Look like mini-versions of pre-determined summative assessments|
| Rely on teacher expertise and interpretation || Rely on outsiders to score and analyze results|
| Occur in the context of classroom life || Interrupt or intrude upon classroom life|
| Focus on responsibility and care ||Focus on accountability|
| Inform immediate next steps ||Focus on external mandates|
| Allow teachers and students to better understand the learning process in general and the learning process for these students in particular || Exclude teachers and students from assessing through the whole learning process|
| Encourage students to assume greater responsibility for monitoring and supporting their own learning. || Exclude students from the assessment process|