Three Reasons to Prioritize Formative Assessment in the Classroom

Three Reasons to Prioritize Formative Assessment in the ClassroomFormative assessment focuses on two main things: teachers and students gathering accurate information in the moment, and teachers using that information to quickly adapt instruction. Ongoing formative assessment practice strategically transforms both students and teachers into decision-based data collectors.

We’re strong proponents of formative assessment evidenced by the many blogs we’ve written on the subject, and today it’s more relevant than ever. It has a demonstrated track record of improving teacher practice, student engagement, and student outcomes, while tying in well with important district priorities.

  • College and career readiness standards. When students are engaged through the use of formative assessment practices, they think at deeper levels, problem-solve effectively, ask good questions, and take ownership of their learning.
  • Response to intervention (RTI). Using formative assessment practices on an ongoing basis, helps teachers gather evidence of learning to ensure the effectiveness of instruction for each student.
  • Individualized instruction. Gathering evidence of learning using formative assessment practices gives teachers the information they need to tailor instruction based on students’ readiness to learn.

The time for formative assessment is now, and here are three reasons why smart and savvy district leaders and educators are prioritizing it in the classroom:

  1. To enable better instructional decisions by collecting and applying evidence of learning in the moment. Summative assessments yield data too late to inform current-year teaching practice. Interim assessments are more useful for helping teachers personalize learning throughout the year by providing data before and after instruction. Formative assessment is the only type of assessment that can offer teachers the timely data (during instruction) needed to impact student learning in the moment.
  2. To see a measurable difference for students by giving quality feedback. The opportunity for students to receive quality feedback – minute-by-minute – allows them to adjust their own work or actions and helps them develop the self-regulation skills (critical thinking, perseverance, problem solving, and self-assessment) they need for success in college and careers.
  3. To boost student achievement and ownership of learning by encouraging student collaboration. If you want to raise student achievement, increase the use of cooperative learning. Allowing students to collaborate on and in the learning makes a huge difference.

Get more formative assessment tips and tricks in our e-book “Making it work: How formative assessment can supercharge your practice.”


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