Merriam-Webster: adjective for·ma·tive \ˈfȯr-mə-tiv\ —used to describe the time when someone or something is growing or being formed
It seems to be a hot topic. FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT could be defined as: an array of ONGOING formal & informal assessments that happen DURING instruction, providing FEEDBACK to teachers and students in order to MODIFY teaching and learning to MOVE LEARNING toward learning goals.
Formative Assessments are distinct from Summative Assessments, whose purpose is to MEASURE student competency AFTER a period of teaching. The difference is often described as: Assessment FOR Learning (Formative): Assessment OF Learning (Summative).
The Smarter Balanced Digital Library Advisory Panel describes Formative Assessment as a deliberate PROCESS that includes: 1) Clarifying the intended learning; 2) Eliciting Evidence; 3) Interpreting Evidence; and 4) Acting on Evidence
Hallmarks of Formative Assessment:
- Can occur over a longer cycle, day-to-day, or moment-to-moment in midst of learning activities
- Involves clearly communicating learning goals and success criteria to students
- Includes ongoing reflection: Where is the learner going? Where is the learner now? Where to next?
- Happens within a supportive context and includes collaboration between teacher and learner
- Provides descriptive feedback to students in order for them to refine their work, improve their understanding or increase their skill
- Involves teachers using the information they have collected to make adjustments to instruction
- Includes student participation through either self or peer-assessment
Examples of Formative Assessments could include (but are not limited to) such strategies as: exit slips, thumbs up, small white board responses, running records, clickers, quizzes (teachers or students mark), written or visual responses, questioning, listening, projects with rubrics… There are likely hundreds of avenues to “check for understanding” but, the key is to USE the information to make adjustments that result in improved student learning.
The BUZZ about Formative Assessment may be worth a listen, because if well implemented, our students will benefit, and that’s what it’s all about.
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