Formative assessment in the early years

Updated April 14, 2017

According to Classroom Assessment, formative assessment of students by their teachers is testing that is ongoing, observational and review based. Formative assessment is incorporated into the learning process, unlike summative assessment, which is completed after instruction.


The National Middle School Association states that formative assessment is part of the learning process. Teacher observation and anecdotal record keeping is a common form of formative assessment in the early years. Other types of formative assessment include quizzes, lab reports and diagnostic testing.


Fair Test explains that the main role of formative assessment is to support quality education. Formative assessment allows teachers to determine students that are struggling in specific areas, as well as areas where students are achieving. With this data, the teacher is able to plan meaningful, individualised instruction.


Formative assessment allows for both descriptive feedback and student involvement in learning, according to the National Middle School Association, and both have proven effective at motivating student learning. Fair Test states that for students who struggle in school, formative assessment is a useful tool in closing the achievement gap. When used correctly, formative assessment can also raise the overall achievement rate.

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About the Author

Based in Florida, Mandi Titus has been writing since 2002. Her articles have been published on sites such as Goodkin, Go Green Street and Living the Healthy Way. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Stetson University.