The Case for Formative Assessment Teacher Professional Development

The Case for Formative Assessment Teacher Professional DevelopmentI was reading Liana Heitin’s blog at Education Week on Formative Assessment-Friendly Scheduling and it really hit home. It referenced a more detailed article from The Oregonian that highlighted the Gresham-Barlow school district and its decision to dedicate one hour each Wednesday morning to formative assessment-based teacher professional development, something that we promote in our Keeping Learning on Track™ (KLT) program.

Providing teachers the opportunity to regularly meet to learn, share data, give and receive feedback, and make plans for what will change in their instruction is key to helping teachers improve their practice. Having this teacher professional development time set aside with a particular focus supports teachers in changing their behaviors in ways that affect student learning and achievement. As Dylan Wiliam says:

Every teacher needs to be getting better—not because they’ re not good enough, but because they can be even better—but every teacher needs to be getting better at something that will make a difference to their students…

When the focus of teacher learning is formative assessment, many changes happen in the classroom. Both students and teachers are collecting evidence of learning (data) on a minute-to-minute and day-by-day basis. This data is used by students to change their learning tactics and by teachers to change their instruction. Ongoing adaptation is happening throughout instruction by all members of the classroom learning team.

If you didn’t get a chance to read the article and see what the teachers had to say about the difference the dedicated teacher professional development time means to them, please take a moment to do so:


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