Teacher tip: How to use formative assessment effectively

​What is​ formative assessment?

Formative assessment provides the feedback that allows a teacher to monitor their impact and a student to move their learning forward.

It provides the answers to the questions:  What is to be learned?  How is learning progressing?  What will be learned next?

It can be immediate (a specific question, thumbs up-thumbs down) or planned (a quiz, use of a rubric with written and verbal teacher moderation).

It is timely (built into every lesson of every unit), and iterative (closes the circle of planning).

Why should I use formative assessment?

Improve your teaching practice
Used as part of a teaching cycle, formative assessment provides the feedback to the teacher about how and where to modify the teaching program to meet the needs of one or more students.

See the impact of your teaching
Formative assessment allows you, as a teacher, to evaluate student work against learning intentions and identify where you have made an impact.

When you engage your students in the process of formative assessment, you are providing feedback to students which they can use to move their own learning forward.

How ​do I impleme​nt formative assessment?

Conduct y​our as​sessment

Select an appropriate formative assessment technique by considering the purpose of the assessment. It should evaluate curriculum-based criteria that reflect the learning intentions you have developed.

Our example

A Year 9 Mathematics teacher breaks down a lesson to review learning intentions, instruct, problem solve, and check understanding with a 'show of thumbs'.

'Thumbs-up' learners then work with 'not-sure' learners on problems while the teacher works with the 'thumbs-down' learners.  The teacher is eliciting evidence of student learning and making adjustments.

For reference, see: Wiliam, D (2011), Embedded Formative Assessment.  Victoria: Hawker Brownlow Education, p.129.

Evaluate and follow-up 

Where do you go from here? Modify your learning plans, set new goals and begin your planning-teaching-assessment cycle again. Base your planning on the Victorian Curriculum F-10 Content Descriptions and Assessment Standards.

Where can I found out more?

To access the full resources this teacher tip is based on see:  Professional Practice Note 6:  Formative Assessment and Practice Principle 6: Rigorous assessment practices.

See also:

Do you have feedback to share?

For more information, or to share your feedback, email professional.practice@edumail.vic.gov.au