Group 1 - Formative Assessment

Group Members:
  • Angela Chiu
  • Meghean Divney
  • Alexis Georgeson
  • Terry High
  • Capote Moss
  • Summer Murray
  • Christy Steele
Formative assessment is a fundamental component to deliver information to students and teachers during the instructional process. Formative assessment is used to constantly monitor understanding of concepts during teaching and learning. It is not a product, but rather a constant assessment of student comprehension whereas content and standards are concerned. Formative assessment is what helps to guide day-to-day instruction in order to maximize learning potential. Teachers use this type of assessment to form, if you please, student learning, regardless of the level at which a student is capable of performing. In other words, formative assessment is one that fosters the learning of all students.

While formative assessment is not a product, it is important to define summative assessment because it is indeed an entirely different form of assessing student knowledge. Summative assessment is a sum of what is learned over time. It is a more factual type of assessment that is used for statistical purposes, and on the contrary to formative assessment, is an end product. According to Paul E. Barton from his article, "The Right Way to Measure Growth" in Educational Leadership (December 2007/January 2008), "Summative tests only measure students' total knowledge, no matter when or where they acquire it-in preschool years, in the family, in the summer, or in previous grades or schools." In other words, it is the type of assessment that is taken at the end of a chapter, unit, or a standardized test, such as the CRCT. It is not a true measure of day-to-day acquired knowledge of content that can be used to guide instruction or aid students in self-assessment, nor does it take into consideration educational and grade level goals. However, it is pertinent to point out that both summative and formative assessment is fundamental to education since both provide a measurement of student learning.

There has been a great deal of research conducted over the years regarding formative assessment and the important impact it has on student learning, and evidence points to a correlation between formative assessment and closing the learning gap because formative assessment can offer immediate evidence of learning and guide instructional practices which are directed to all students. Both teacher and student use formative assessment results to make decisions about what actions need to be taken in order to promote learning. The assessments are valuable not only because they guide instruction, but they enable students to gain a deeper, enduring understanding of content that can be transferable to other aspects of life. Who can argue that there is a direct correlation between formative assessment and enduring understandings that require thought, reflection, and explanation?

Formative assessment can take on a variety of practices for both teachers and students. It is of utmost importance that the teacher routinely asks thoughtful, reflective questions of the students, rather than questions that are short and factual in nature. In doing this, the teacher is promoting enduring understandings of content and concepts being taught. Furthermore, researchers Black and Wiliam (1998b), make the following recommendations for formative assessment:
  • Frequent short tests
  • New learning should be tested within about a week of first exposure
  • Be mindful of the quality of test items and work with other teachers and outside sources to collect good ones.
While these techniques have validity, they should be used in tandem with journal writing, exit tickets, homework and quizzes, concept mapping, problem solving observations and a wide array of other formative assessments. It is by utilizing formative assessments that teachers can promote a lifetime of enduring understandings in students that will be transferable in education and life experiences. Furthermore, formative assessments engage student in reflection, direction, and purpose for learning.

This Animoto is a poignant depiction of what formative assessment looks like in the classroom.

Some examples of formative assessments, followed by informative links are as follows:

Summaries and Reflections

Lists, charts and graphic organizers

Visual Representation

Collaborative Activities

Barton, P. (December 2007/January 2008). The Right Way to Measure Growth. Educational Leadership, 70(65), 4.
Boston, Carol (2002) the concept of Formative Assessment. Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation, 8(9).
Scott-Simmons, W. (2009). Literature Circles Packet (Online Forum).
Daniels, et al. (1994). Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in the Student-Centered Classroom. Steinhouse Publishers.
Dodge, J. 25 Quick Formative Assessments for the Differentiated Classroom. Scholastic Teaching Resources. (2009).