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CHAPTER 1:

Formative Assessment and Assessment for Learning

CHAPTER 1

Formative Assessment and Assessment for Learning

1

CHAPTER 1:

Formative Assessment and Assessment for Learning

Innovations that include strengthening the practice of formative assessment produce significant and often substantial learning gains.
—Black & Wiliam, 1998b, p. 140

his conclusion, from Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam’s comprehensive review of research on formative assessment practices, has changed the face of assessment today. It is in large part responsible for the widespread focus in education on the particular kind of assessment known as “formative.” Their research review (1998a) examined studies that collectively encompassed
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Figure 1.1

Formative Assessment
Formal and informal processes teachers and students use to gather evidence for the purpose of improving learning

In the classroom we assess formally through assignments, tests, quizzes, performances, projects, and surveys; or informally through questioning and dialogue, observing, and anecdotal note taking. In any of these instances, we may or may not be engaged in formative assessment: the determining factor is not the type of assessment we use, but rather how we and our students use the information.

Summative Assessment
When the information from an assessment is used solely to make a judgment about level of competence or achievement, it is a summative assessment (Figure 1.2). At the classroom level, an assessment is summative when it is given to determine how much students have learned at a particular point in time, for the purpose of communicating achievement status to others. The communication
Figure 1.2

Summative Assessment
Assessments that provide evidence of student achievement for the purpose of making a judgment about student competence or program effectiveness

5

Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning

usually takes the form of a symbol, a letter grade or number, or a comparison to a standard such as “Meets the Standard” or
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