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Formative Assessments and the Common Core

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Many teachers use formative assessments as a way to prep students for state testing.  Teachers, in many ways have been "forced" to use formative assessments in this way in order to reach a proficiency target.  However formative assessments are so much more than test prep, in fact I would say they should not be for test prep but rather a way to gauge where students are in relationship to the content goal.

I have attached a video from Rick Wormeil as a basis to show the difference betwen formative and summative assessments.  As the video is viewed, one will notice that he isn't talking about test prep when he defines formative assessments.  Rather, he describes formative assessment as an essential part of our lesson plans EVERY day! 

Good teachers are already practicing many formative assessments such as checks for understanding, summaries, exit cards.  The problem is many do not often don't take the information received from those formative assessments and turn then into a plan for the next minute, hour or day.

Wormeli defines summative and formative assessments in this way.

Summative= post learning, but Wormeii says no to forget, we are allowed to make a summative assessment a formative assessment if the information we get from the summative is that learning did not occur.

Formative= during learning, checkpoints of descriptive feedback

So what does descriptive feedback look like?

Wormeli also shares that the three keys to descriptive feedback are as follows:

1.  Help student discover the goal /objective of the work being done.

2.  Ask the student or help them discover where she is in relationship to that goal.

3.  Help the student figure out how to close the gap between the goal and where she is now.

Far too often, teachers use rubrics that give a student an 7/10 format with no descriptin of what she could have done better.  A 7/10 says there is room for improvement in relationship to the goal.  A 7/10 should not be a final measurement on that particular skill.  Rather, that information should be turned into a descriptive feedback rubric or a one on one converstation should occur between the teacher and student to close the gap.

Wormelli argues that teachers should spend more time develping formative assessments and be able to communicate what the formatiive assessments are telling them in regards to teaching and learning.  Students are then given another opportunity to learn with descriptive feedback.   

When students receive decriptive feedback, Wormeli states that "we will see a higher level of mastery student achievement and probably test scores if you are into that!" 

For more infromation on grades and assessments, check out Wormeli's other videos on youtube.  It will change the way you do business in your classroom. 


“The role of the learner is not to passively receive information, but to actively participate in the construction of new meaning.”  B. L. Shapiro, 1994



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