Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a teaching strategy that focuses on helping students achieve mastery in math. Formative assessment is used to guide instruction and help students assess their own learning. The NKH 2.0 summer institute will present practical strategies for using formative assessment in the math classroom.

The Role of Formative Assessment

There are many different types of assessments. Assessment, which is the use of tests and other measures to make educational decisions, is not a clear-cut process. Assessment can have a significant positive or negative impact on the lives of students. Therefore, teachers need to understand assessment procedures, select the appropriate measurement instruments, and conduct assessment skillfully. Assessment is much more than just tests and data. It is time to move away from thinking of assessment as just end-of-the-unit and high-stakes tests. Your assessments should be embedded, ongoing, diverse, and used to guide instruction. Students should also know the assessment is for helping but not judging them.

Summative assessments are what most people traditionally think of when they think of assessments. Summative assessments are the assessments you give at the end of a unit of study or at the end of the school year. Summative assessments include the high-stakes tests that your district uses to report measures of student achievement. Scores are the numerical results of the assessment, and almost all curriculum-based measures and all norm-referenced tests provide some type of score report. As a result, you may encounter many different kinds of scores. Criterion-referenced scores are used for curriculum-based assessment, usually the tests you give in your classroom. Norm-referenced scores are reported for more formal, standardized testing. Scores perform the essential function of objectively describing student ability and performance levels, but many pitfalls exist in scoring and some aspects of the process confuse even the experts.

The ultimate goal of your assessments should be to fairly and accurately measure the ability and performance of your students so you can develop the best possible educational programs and services for your students. You can and should continue to give summative assessments at the end of a unit of study. But summative assessments are given too late to effectively improve the education of your students. To improve your instruction and your students’ mathematical achievement, incorporate formative assessments into your daily lessons.

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