"Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students' achievement of intended instructional outcomes.”
Central to this definition are several important ideas.
- Formative assessment is not a test, assessment, or quiz given at the end of a learning period, but an ongoing process of collecting evidence of student learning during instruction to inform next steps in teaching and learning while there is still an opportunity to influence learning. Identifying areas of need at the end of a unit may influence subsequent instruction, but it is not the heart of formative assessment.
- The idea of “during instruction” can mean both literally during a class period as students and teachers are engaged in a learning experience, and also more broadly, during an instructional sequence that may span several weeks. A teacher can make adjustments to the instructional plans to account for students’ current understanding and to support them moving closer to the intended learning goals.
- The process of formative assessment includes both students and teachers in the collection and consideration of evidence of learning; formative assessment is something teachers do with students.
The concepts of formative assessment can be captured through a series of three questions that students and teachers are engaged in answering:
- Where am I headed?
- Where am I now?
- How do I close the gap?
USD 497 Common Formative Assessments
Common formative assessments are aligned pre- and post-assessments for learning that are collaboratively designed by a grade- or course-level team of educators to assess student understanding of the particular learning intentions and success criteria currently in focus within a curricular unit of study. CFAs afford grade- and course-level teacher teams a clear lens through which to see their instructional impact on student learning. The assessment questions directly match the levels of cognitive rigor within the unit learning intentions (derived from academic content standards or provincial learning outcomes). Accompanying success criteria describe explicitly what students are to demonstrate in their assessment responses to show they have achieved the learning intentions. Knowing what they are to learn and how their understanding will be evaluated, students are empowered to take a more active role in their own learning.
Currently USD 497 is using teacher created common formative assessments for use in PLC's.