A Closer Look at Formative Assessment


Formative Assessment is a process used by teachers and students as part of instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students' achievement of core content. As assessment FOR learning, formative assessment proactices provide students with clear learning targets, examples and models of strong and weak work, regular descriptive feedback, and the ability to self-assess, track learning, and set goals. (Adapted from Council of Chief State School Officers, FAST SCASS)

Defining Formative and Summative Assessment
Great information from the National Middle School Association on formative and summative assessment.

Purposeexternal image formativecharliebrown.jpg

The purpose of formative assessment is to improve learning, not to assign a grade.

Characteristics of Formative Assessment

Connected to learning targets
Descriptive, evidence-based
Embedded in learning
Ongoing, continual
Nurtures self-assessment
Can be enhanced by structures that provide for peer assessments
Supports conversations between student and teacher that involve two-way communication
Leads to timely, usable feedback
Results in improved understanding and learning


Strategic Teaching Strategies for Active Learning
Link to the page on this wiki outlining dozens of formative assessment strategies.
Download the information on the wiki as a document:

More Formative Assessment Strategies
Link to a four page pdf with a dozen strategies for assessment
Download pdf here:

Sample Lesson Plan Featuring Formative Assessment Strategies

Social Studies Lesson Plan
Jennifer Barnett – Winterboro High School - jbarnett@tcboe.org
Course of Study Standard: 11th Grade COS 2: Describe the social and political origins, accomplishments, and limitations of Progressivism.
Daily Learning Goal or Target: Students will answer these questions: What circumstances does today’s society have in common with the circumstances prior to the progressive era? What would it take to experience another progressive era?
Knowledge/Skill Required to
Meet Learning Target
Planned Formative Assessment—Question, Self-Assessment, Learning-Embedded, or Peer Assessment
Proposed Use of Feedback
by Teacher and Students
1. Summarize the roots of the progressive era.
Quick Write
GIST in group of two
Students share work. Teacher should review the most important concepts with the whole group.
2. Construct a list of the conditions which had bearing on the need for the progressive reforms. (Groups of two on the following topics: muckrakers, government efficiency, democratic reforms, suffrage, child, health, & safety issues, and prohibition.)
3-2-1 in groups of two
3 incidents that made the public aware that changes were needed
2 people associated with these particular problems and situations in society
1 description of the obstacles to these progressive reforms taking hold in society
As students create lists, teacher should question students to encourage deeper responses and select 3-2-1’s to share with whole class. (Purposely choose 3-2-1’s of varying quality. The less quality lists will generate good whole group discussions.)
3. Evaluate each group’s analysis of society’s circumstances which made the progressive reforms necessary.
Color Cards for Evaluation
During share time, each group should evaluate the 3-2-1’s quality. (Red, Yellow, Green cards: Red – lots of missing or inaccurate info; Yellow – some missing or inaccurate info; Green – excellent.)
Post a 3-2-1 for each topic on chart paper or board. Students should record the analysis of each topic. Using the 3-2-1 as a guide, facilitate a whole group discussion comparing the circumstances then to today’s society. (Point out to students that the discussion information will help them answer 2nd daily learning target.)
4. Compose a list of three circumstances that must exist in order for our society to experience another progressive era. Evaluate other student’s responses and determine if those circumstances are present in our society today.
Snowball Fight
Compose a list of circumstances on sheet of paper. Throw across room. Choose a snowball and evaluate the list by writing agree/disagree beside each response. Then write present/not present to determine if that circumstance exists today or not. Throw again as time allows. Collect all snowballs.
Use the information on the snowballs to draft a couple of questions about circumstances which exist in today’s society that seem to warrant change. These questions may be an assignment for a blog discussion or homework. Have students provide evidence of the circumstance.