Previously, I wrote a post featuring some of my favorite formative assessment tools. They are pretty simple and fairly well-known, and yet, I received many thanks from talented teachers for the list. I also hear, often, of formative and summative assessments being confused. That led me to write a very simplistic comparison of the two. Then, recently, I saw a tweet to the effect that formative assessment is more important than summative assessment. I couldn’t agree more! All of these together led me to write today’s post. What makes formative assessment so imperative to learning? Let’s look at the definition:
Definition: Formative assessment including diagnostic testing is a range of formal and informal assessment procedures conducted by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment.
The last part is the answer. Formative assessment is used to modify teaching (daily instruction must be reflected upon and future instruction guided by student learning). By doing so, students have more relevant learning experiences and better opportunities to learn and retain the new knowledge, skills, and concepts. I’m not sure how teachers can know what the students are ready to learn without some type of formative assessment. It could be a pretest that proves content mastery already, a mid-way check to determine whether to move on, a posttest that shows the need for reteaching, or any number of other gauges throughout instruction and learning. I’m very much opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction. Personalized instruction must be based on individual needs and learning styles. The bottom line is that without consistent formative assessment, true student-centered learning isn’t taking place.
As always, I value feedback and opinions. Data analysis and assessment management are just a couple of areas that I help schools with.
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