“Formative assessment is a potentially powerful instructional process because the
practice of sharing information that supports learning is embedded into the instructional process by design. If the potential of formative assessment is to be realized, it must
transform from a collection of abstract theories and research methodologies and
become a creative and systematic classroom
My exploration of the research related to the formative evaluative process generated three major themes: first, the importance of student and parental involvement in the learning process; second, the importance of data driven instruction; and third, the importance of varied measurement strategies that do not require an excessive amount of time. In the remainder of this paper, I will review the three themes identified in research and create a formative assessment model that can be utilized in the vast majority of classrooms.
Student and parental involvement is critical to the educational process. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal grant program requires significant parental involvement and the importance of research-based programs for student intervention. One research-based method that has been given a great deal of attention is goal setting and formative assessment. One of the many approaches within this method is the utilization of portfolio assessment.
an article written by Tumarkin and Weldon the authors discuss the use of
portfolio assessment at an elementary school
parental involvement connection for the school referenced by Tumarkin and
Weldon commenced with several initiatives: First, staff members adopted a new
philosophy with greater emphasis on continuous and open communication between
the school and home; Second, the school educated parents related to the
portfolios in events such as back-to-school night and parent conferences;
Third, the principal’s weekly newsletter had a section devoted to the portfolio
process; and Finally, the school conducted early morning parent coffee hours to
inform parents about grade-level curriculum and school-wide initiatives
recognition program established by the federal government related to the NCLB
grants is the “Blue Ribbon Schools”
Data driven instruction and student/parent involvement are two important components of a successful learning environment, but a great deal of concern has arisen in education related to two concepts: (1) many educators, parents and others feel that teachers are spending so much time focusing on the state summative assessments that much of the curriculum such as the fine arts are being relegated to secondary importance or being totally ignored; and (2) the focus on the state summative assessments is causing teachers to spend so much time in benchmark assessment for the purpose of predicting performance on the summative tests that teachers are losing a great deal of instructional time. Therefore, the ability for teachers to incorporate formative assessment into their basic instructional strategies is critical. Two methods of gathering data with the above goals in mind are: questioning techniques and technology.
The two basic goals of questioning are to engage
students in the instructional process and encourage higher levels of thinking
Technology is a major component in formative
assessment. Three uses of technology are
collecting data, using student management systems to store and view student data
to develop a comprehensive picture of the student, and utilizing computerized
instructional programs to individualize instruction. Clicker systems are an example of using
technology as a means of collecting data as the system allows all students to
respond to a question and provides immediate feedback
Based on the research reviewed for this paper an effective formative assessment model will include student and parent input, data collected at frequent intervals, and incorporate time-management strategies that will make the model a reasonable system for the classroom teacher. My model is presented as a sequential list of activities:
1. Formative assessment has to begin with a clear understanding of the learning objectives. The determination needs to be made related to what measurable behavior(s) is expected when the student has mastered the state mandated curriculum. (long term goals)
2. A task analysis of each behavior has to be conducted so that there is a clear understanding of the sub-skills that are required in order for the student to exhibit mastery of the long-term goal. The foundation of these sub-skills is identified in the state curriculum by examining expectations for an objective at earlier grade levels. However, the state curriculum rarely has the specificity required to completely master concepts. The teacher must have a clear understanding of items one and two with the ability to verbalize the goals in the teacher’s own words before ever soliciting parent and student involvement.
3. The teacher needs to have regular meetings/communications with the students and parents in order to explain the long and short term goals, solicit parent and student ideas related to the goals, and describe the various methods the teacher will utilize to review with students and parents the progress being made in achieving the goals. Technology can be an excellent resource for this communication via printouts of student performance collected electronically during the process and with online communication through the student management system that allows parents and students to track confidential information because of personalized logins and passwords. Parent and student understanding of the goals are critical because both parents and students need to understand the value for learning each objective. This process is also an excellent method of data gathering for teachers related to what students and parents’ value, student interests, and what students and parents perceive as student strengths and weaknesses.
4. Once the set of long term and short term goals are established the teacher needs to formulate lesson plans that are relevant to the students and establish a daily measureable objective. Data related to this objective should be collected during the instructional process via activities such as questioning techniques, bell ringer problems, ticket out responses, clicker systems, classroom discussions, peer review opportunities, and flipped instruction. The appropriate activity will depend on the complexity of the objective being measured. Two common pitfalls of measurable objectives are (1) teachers have a tendency to create objectives that only measure basic understanding and do not offer opportunities for measuring complex learning and (2) teachers assume that the only valid method of collecting data is via quizzes and formal assessments. An important component of this process is that students have the ability to express in their own words the objective for each day and why the objective is important.
5. Communication is the key. Students and parents should be receiving almost continuous feedback with a minimum of a written report weekly. The feedback does not have to be complicated or extensive. The feedback should include three major components: (1) the long term objective; (2) the short term objective, and (3) the progress that has been made during the week. The areas on the form for the long and short term objectives can be pre-populated. The progress made during the week can be as simple as a stop-light color coding for young children and their parents to a great work, acceptable progress, and we need to talk for the older students and their parents.
Clark, I. (2012, October 6). "Formative assesment: a stematic and artistic process of instructions for supporting school and lifelong learning.". Retrieved from Canadian Journal of Eductaion 35.2: 24+. Academic One File: http://go.galegroup.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/ps/i.do?id=Gale%7CA303072566&v=2.1&u=gain40375&it=r&p+AONE&sw=w
Dirksen, D. J. (2011). Hitting the reset button: using formative assessment to guide instruction. Retrieved from Phi Delta Kappan 92.7: Academic OneFile: http://go.galegroup.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA254485115&v=2.1&u=gain40375&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w
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Pascopella, A. (2012, March). "A crystal ball for student achievement: predictive analysis is taking hold in some school districts--and getting results.". Retrieved from District Administration 62+. Academic OneFile: http://go.galegroup.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA282741156&v=2.1&u=gain40375&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w
The Education Innovator . (2006, October 12). "Burrville Elementary School: three years later the Blue Ribbon continues to wave.". Retrieved from The Education Innovator: Academic OneFile. : http://go.galegroup.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/ps/i.do?id+GALE%7CA153673125&v=2.1&u=gain40375&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w
The Education Innovator. (2007, November). "NCLB Blue Ribbon School of choice: innovating to achieve the goals of NCLB.". Retrieved from The Education Innovator: Academic OneFile: http://go.galegroup.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/ps/i.do?id+Gale%7CA172801948&v=2.1&u=gain40375&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w
The Science Teacher. (2012). "The snowball questioning method.". Retrieved from The Science Teacher 79.4: Academic OneFile.: http://go.galegroup.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/ps/i.do?id+GALE%7CA295060023&v=2.1&u=gain40375&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w
Tumarkin, S. R. (1998). " Parent involvment: more power in the portfolio process.". Retrieved from Childhood Education 75.2(1998): 90+. Academic OneFile: http://go.galegroup.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/ps/i.do?id+GALE%7CA53551791&v=2.1&u=gain40375&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w