Formative Assessment: What Do Parents Think?

Formative Assessment:  What Do Parents Think?

We’ve blogged a lot about formative assessment from a teacher and student perspective, but never from a parent’s perspective. What do they think about formative assessment? Do they understand how it’s used in the classroom and how it benefits their kids? Pulled from a recent research report we had commissioned by Grunwald Associates, some of the findings are interesting and some are predictable.

Parents' Top Priorities for Their Child's EducationAn overwhelming majority of parents are most interested in teaching and learning that is centered on their child (not surprising). At least 90 percent of parents cite the following priorities as “extremely” or “very” important to them:  Monitoring their child’s general progress in school, knowing when to be concerned about their child’s progress, determining their child’s preparedness for the next stage of learning, knowing if they need to seek extra help, understanding their child’s development as a learner, monitoring their child’s specific achievement of education standards, and communicating with their child’s teacher.

Based on our definition of formative assessment – a sustained practice to elicit evidence of learning minute to minute, day by day in the classroom – the findings reveal that formative and interim assessments are highly valued and closely aligned to parents’ top priorities.

When asked specifically about assessments, 68 percent of parents “completely” or “somewhat” agree that formative and interim assessments provide data about individual student growth and achievement. Further, 66 percent agree that formative and interim assessments help teachers better focus on the content that students need to learn, and 60 percent agree that these assessments provide teachers with the information needed to pace instruction for each student.

The data also suggests that parents prefer a more embedded formative assessment classroom strategy, as the majority believes that test results lose their relevance within one month after assessments are administered.

If you’re a parent, teacher or administrator, we’d love to hear what you think of formative assessment – the day to day, minute by minute kind – so drop a comment below.