Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom: A Guide for Instructional Leaders

Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom: A Guide for Instructional Leaders

Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom: A Guide for Instructional Leaders

Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom: A Guide for Instructional Leaders


Formative assessment is one of the best ways to increase student learning and enhance teacher quality. But effective formative assessment is not part of most classrooms, largely because teachers misunderstand what it is and don't have the necessary skills to implement it.

In this practical guide for school leaders, authors Connie M. Moss and Susan M. Brookhart define formative assessment as an active, continual process in which teachers and students work together--every day, every minute--to gather evidence of learning, always keeping in mind three guiding questions: Where am I going? Where am I now? What strategy or strategies can help me get to where I need to go? Chapters focus on the six elements of formative assessment: (1) sharing learning targets and criteria for success, (2) feedback that feeds forward, (3) student goal setting, (4) student self-assessment, (5) strategic teacher questioning, and (6) engaging students in asking effective questions.

Using specific examples based on their extensive work with teachers, the authors provide

• "Strategic talking points" and "conversation starters" to address common misconceptions about formative assessment;

• Practical classroom strategies to share with teachers;

• Ways to model the elements of formative assessment in conversations with teachers about their professional learning;

• "What if" scenarios and advice for how to deal with them; and

• Questions for reflection to gauge understanding and progress.

As Moss and Brookhart emphasize, the goal is not to "do" formative assessment, but to embrace a major cultural change that moves away from teacher-led instruction to a "partnership of intentional inquiry" between student and teacher, with better teaching and learning as the outcome.


Formative assessment, when used effectively, can significantly improve student achievement and raise teacher quality. Yet highquality formative assessment is rarely a consistent part of the classroom culture. Teachers are neither sufficiently familiar with it nor equipped with the knowledge or the skill to put formative assessment to work for themselves and their students.

This book is intended as a resource for school leaders as they work with teachers to make the formative assessment process an integral part of their classrooms. We focus on classroom-level practices that affect student learning and achievement, build capacity, and foster schoolwide outcomes that can meet the demands for high-stakes accountability facing today’s education professionals. And amid calls for data-driven decision making, we intentionally focus the book on practices that put information about learning into the hands of the most important decision makers of all—the students.

We have organized this book so that school leaders, school teams, and collaborative groups can use it as a guide to engage in highly effective formative assessment practices that promote school improvement and increase student achievement. We place particular emphasis on the ways that the formative assessment process enables students to harness the workings of their own minds to become intentional and skilled learners.

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