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Types of formative assessment used in schools

Updated April 17, 2017

Formative assessment in schools is vital to the overall success of the teaching and learning environment. Formative assessments can be done on school programs, curriculum and by teachers within a classroom to determine the level of learning taking place. According to Nitko and Brookhart in their book "Educational Assessment of Students," the key to formative assessment is that it occurs while a program is being developed or while a class is being conducted. This permits for changes or improvement in a class or program.

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Schools implement new programs on a regular basis. It is important that schools also assess these programs while they are being implemented in order to determine their effectiveness. Formative assessment is conducted during the development phase of a program in order for schools to make appropriate changes before implementation. Teachers are asked to rate a program and make suggestions for improvement, and then it is refined before being implemented in schools.

Sizing Up

This is a type of formative assessment used by teachers as they learn about the students in their class. In Nitko and Brookhart's book, "Educational Assessment of Students," they talk about teachers using this type of formative assessment to determine the strengths and weaknesses of students. This information allows teachers to create lessons that will provide the most benefit to all students in the class. Observation is a key method of sizing up students.

Specific Feedback

This type of formative assessment is used by teachers when they want to help their students understand how to improve in a class. This can either be done during a lesson through questioning the class on their understanding of the topic, or the teacher can provide specific feedback when students submit work. No matter how a teacher decides to provide specific feedback, this is important information for students as they strive to learn.

Student Self-Assessment

"Every important learning target should offer students ways to think about evaluating their own learning," according to Nitko and Brookhart's book. Students need to be able to evaluate their own performance and understanding of material they are working on. A student can do a self-assessment during a project by comparing his work to the stated goals. Students can also do a self-assessment when they complete their work by reflecting on how they performed and what they learnt. Self- assessments help students learn to adjust during a class, and they can use this skill for the rest of their lives.

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About the Author

Jonathan Wilson has been in education for the past fifteen years, first as a teacher for five, a college coach for one, and then as a principal for nine. He is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in educational leadership and special educaiton.

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