What Teachers Really Need to Know about Formative Assessment

What Teachers Really Need to Know about Formative Assessment

What Teachers Really Need to Know about Formative Assessment

What Teachers Really Need to Know about Formative Assessment


What does formative assessment look like, and when should I use it? What kind of planning does it require, and what kinds of data does it generate? How will formative assessment improve my teaching and help my students succeed in a standards-based environment? How does it relate to my application of multiple intelligences theory, to differentiated instruction, and to everything else I'm already doing in my classroom?

In this volume, author Laura Greenstein has gathered what you really need to know in order to make formative assessment a seamless part of your everyday practice. Emphasizing formative assessment application in secondary schools but applicable to teachers of all grade levels and all subject areas, this book provides

• Straightforward answers to teachers' most frequently asked questions

• Dozens of strategies for measuring student understanding and diagnosing learning needs before, during, and after instruction

• Illustrations of formative assessment across the content areas, from math to language arts to science to social studies to health and physical education

• Guidance on making data-informed instructional adjustments

• Sample templates for organizing assessment data to track both whole-class and individual progress toward identified goals

• Case studies to illustrate effective and ineffective formative assessment and deepen your understanding

If you're looking to take formative assessment from theory to practice--and from practice to genuine learning improvement--this is the place to begin.


I sometimes start a workshop by asking teachers to think back to their own student days and their worst assessment experience. Everyone has a story.

I’ve heard about tests that had nothing to do with the assigned text or the instruction. I’ve also heard of teachers telling students about to begin a test that they were expected to fail it. The story I often share is about my first economics class at the University of Connecticut. Having no experience with the subject and finding that the classroom lectures didn’t provide much illumination, I decided my best chance to pass the test was simply to memorize portions of the text and repeat them verbatim as my answers. When the professor called me into his office to accuse me of plagiarism, I explained my predicament and, fortunately, we were both able to laugh about it. I then received some extra help in understanding economic theories and statistics. So while this was my worst test experience, it was also my first taste of the effectiveness of formative assessment, although it would be many years before I came to understand it as such.

The word assessment comes from the Latin root assidere, which means “to sit beside another.” Our best assessment experiences are usually the ones that reflect the word’s roots . . .

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