TOP 10 HEADLINES ON FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT
10. PLAN, SET A PURPOSE, BE INTENTIONAL AND PURPOSEFUL!
When planning formative assessment, many people believe that it should be “off the cuff”. Although there are times when this strategy works, formative assessment is most beneficial when it is planned and has a specific learning purpose.
9. MAKE IT JUST ANOTHER PART OF YOUR INSTRUCTIONAL DAY
Formative assessment should not be an add-on to your day of instruction. According to Dr. Vorenkamp, it should be built in daily, weekly, and monthly to keep an ongoing assessment of your childrens’ learning progress. It is an integral part of the instruction and assessment in your classroom.
8. STUDENT INVOLVEMENT IS THE KEY
In order to get the most out of your formative assessment, students have to be involved in taking ownership in their own learning. Rather than assigning an assessment to each child, the children need to be a part of it. It is their job to show their learning, and that may look different for each child. According to the article, “Assessment Through the Student’s Eyes” by Rick Stiggins, “the students’ role is to strive to understand what success looks like, to use feedback from each assessment to discover where they are now in relation to where they want to be, and to determine how to do better the next time.”
7. FAILURE WITHOUT FEEDBACK CREATES MORE FAILURE AND EMOTIONAL SHUTDOWN
When students see that they have attempted and failed, their first priority is to protect their own ego. They may subconsciously do that by shutting down, blaming others, or having a different emotional reaction. It is our job to make sure that we are not just assigning a failing grade without any feedback. We need to ensure our students are actively learning from their mistakes, how they can do better next time, and that they feel safe to continue the learning process.
6. MEANINGFUL FEEDBACK KEEPS STUDENTS FEELING EMOTIONALLY SAFE
Dr. Vorenkamp discussed the importance of meaningful feedback. When a teacher examines the child’s work, the feedback must focus on the level of learning and must provide specific ways for the child to improve next time. Using generic feedback such as “good work” or “incorrect” does not teach the child what they did right or wrong, and will solicit very little improvement for the next assignment.
5. BE BALANCED WITH SUMMATIVE AND FORMATIVE ASSESSMENTS
A productive and meaningful learning environment must include a balance of both formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments should be done throughout the units, and can be oral, written, or whole group. The purpose of formative assessments is to strive to increase student achievement. On the contrary, summative assessments are done at the end of a unit or course of study. The purpose of summative assessment is to document student achievement and report student progress. When used incorrectly, summative assessments can be used as a threat for poor achievement, or as a promise for rewards.
4. RESEARCH SAYS FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT WORKS
According to recent research from experts in the field, such as John Hattie, we know that formative assessment increases student learning. Based on research done with 1200 projects, there was unprecedented gains in achievement for those classrooms who regularly used formative assessment. What is most exciting is that the largest gains were for those underachieving students. One researcher, Dylan William, found that “formative assessment can double the speed of learning”.
3. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ATTRIBUTES
When thinking about formative assessment, there are four integral attributes of the formative assessment process. First, you must clarify the intended learning that you want in your classroom. Second, you must elicit evidence, and then interpret the evidence. This is the part that many teachers don’t do. It is not enough to give an assessment, but it is also your job to evaluate the assessment to make instructional decisions for your students. Finally, act on the evidence to make appropriate changes to your lessons or instruction to meet the needs of your learners.
2. FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT COMES IN ALL TYPES
Formative assessment can literally be done in hundreds of different ways in the classroom. Some ideas include chalk talks, 3-2-1, using analogies, mapping, and reading protocols. There are too many to list here, however, one good reference is “53 Ways to Check for Understanding” from edutopia.org/back-to-school or #bestyearever
1. PILLARS ARE A PRIORITY!
Dr. Ellen Vorenkamp focused on the 5 pillars of formative assessment. In order for formative assessment to be most effective, all 5 pillars must be in place. First, clear learning targets must be set. Second, effective questioning must be implemented. Third, descriptive, actionable feedback on all formative assessments must be provided. Fourth, students must be involved as self assessors in the process. Finally, the fifth pillar states that students must also be assessors for their peers in order to make the most growth in learning.
Written by Kristie D’Ambrosi, Lauren Fragomeni, Jayne Kelly, and Melissa Rehbine
Troy School District