Professional Growth Goal – Formative Assessment

One of my professional learning goals this year is to improve my formative assessment practices.  I intended to research the area of formative assessment and then settle on three workable sub-goals.  Following a great deal of professional reading and reflection, I have settled on a slightly more complex plan as a result of my definition of formative assessment and its key processes.

Firstly, I defined formative assessment for the purpose of my learning goal:

Formative assessment is the process of collecting information about student learning and taking action to move the learning forward.

 Secondly, I broke down formative assessment into a number of sub-processes. Experts in the field will emphasise various aspects of formative assessment or conceptualise the practice into different steps or cycles.  I don’t think it really matters how you slice it, so long as you are covering all of the key elements.  For the purpose of my learning goal, I have broken it down into what I think is a workable process.

Formative assessment involves the following processes:

  1. Articulate learning goals
  2. Check for learning
  3. Give feedback to move the learning forward
  4. Take action to move the learning forward

Students and teachers are likely to need to loop through these processes in order to get the most out of the learning environment.  For example, when the teacher checks for learning and then provides feedback, they may need to revisit the learning goals with students before trying a second time.

I found the following sources to be particularly helpful:

  • Dylan William professional development day “Embedding Formative Assessment”.  Read about it here.
  • Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2007). Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom. ASCD: Virginia, USA. 
  • Jackson, R. 2009. Never work harder than your students & other principles of great teaching.  Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development: USA.

In my next post I will detail my plan of attack for making changes to my own professioanl practice of formative assessment.


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