Six Things Teachers and District Leaders Can Do To Support Formative Assessment

Six Things Teachers and District Leaders Can Do To Support Formative AssessmentMany district leaders and administrators use the valuable summer months to plan for the return of teachers and students to the classroom. In many schools, formative assessment practices will be implemented at the classroom level to help ensure that all students continue to learn what they need for success. In fact, back in June we posted a blog – Summer School – School and District Leaders’ To-Do List for Formative Assessment Success – where we shared some key things they can do to help teachers make the most of formative assessment.

To recap…

  1. Be a learner and model
  2. Conduct formative classroom walk-throughs
  3. Plan for sustaining

Envisioning a balanced assessment system that supports classrooms where cultures of learning are established leads to the establishment of systems and environments that allow that to happen. While this previous blog points out the ingredients needed to sustain formative assessment, the following six tactics will help with the planning and overall implementation of formative assessment practices.

  1. Establish teacher collaboration time: What configuration makes sense for your professional learning—existing, grade level, content, cross-grade, multi-disciplinary? Develop a detailed implementation plan that includes expectations for participants and how those expectations will be shared. Carving out and protecting the time for teachers to meet to support each other in this work is key to its successful integration. Account for classroom observations and formative classroom walk-throughs.
  1. Build an implementation plan: How will participation in this change effort be determined? Is it voluntary or mandatory? When will it happen? Think long-term when it comes to planning and ask how technology might be involved.
  1. Select and support teacher leaders: Who will be the teacher leaders for your building-level professional learning opportunities? What do they need to know before accepting the role? Will you recruit, select, or invite? Clear expectations coupled with success criteria will help teacher leaders gain the long-range vision for this work. Helping them build this effort into their own professional goals also supports them in being more focused and formative in their individual practice.
  1. Build teacher interest: What can you do to help teachers connect to this work? The proverbial “what’s in it for me?” question is something to consider as you reach out to early adopters. Involving teachers in the needs assessment is one way to engage them, as is the planning of the implementation.
  1. Provide resources: What materials and resources does each participant need in order to be successful?
  1. Set success criteria: How will you know the effort has been successful? How will you celebrate success? This may look very different in Year One versus Year Five.

While teachers are the ones using formative assessment practices in their classrooms, school and district leaders play a substantial supporting role in making those practices systematic—and yes, it involves more than budgeting for teacher professional development. Effective leaders understand the importance of formative assessment practice when it comes to continuous school improvement. Make a visible effort to show your commitment.