Formative Assessment: Why?

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Check Out the New Blog FormativeAssessmentWhyAccording to Lang, et al (2008), the formative assessment process came about from educators working on ways to accelerate student achievement and to help predict how well students will perform on standards-based statewide tests.

Lang is right on target, however, the general perception often is that standard-based learning and formative assessments should only be used in subjects/courses that are assessed by state or district assessments. In actuality, formative assessment should be implemented across all courses/subjects that students take because, it provides an accountability system truly based on three components that all state/district wide assessments are determined to measure, yet rarely do.

  1. Instructional strategy (teaching)
  2. Student mastery and
  3. Curriculum alignment

In 1989, Royce Sadler established the essential purpose of formative assessment as the means to identify the gap between a student’s current status in learning and some desired educational goal.

However, the purpose is really more detailed than that. According to Rassi (1999), the purpose of formative assessment is to monitor students’ acquisition of knowledge and skills during educational preparation, that is, during the time when students’ basic and professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes are being ‘formed.’ Ongoing assessment helps students and their academic and clinical instructors to systematically track and document progress toward the attainment of learning outcomes. Assessment results can also serve as useful indicators for responsive and responsible educational planning.

Lang, S., Stanely, T., & Moore, B. (2008). Short Cycle Assessment: Improving Student Achievement Through Formative Assessment. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.
D. Royce Sadler, "Formative Assessment and the Design of Instructional Systems," Instructional Science, vol. 18, 1989, p. 130.
Rassi, J.A. (1999). Rationale for Formative Assessment Component in New Audiology Certification Standards. Retrieved, February 2, 2009, from

Discuss here: What are some strategies that you use for ongoing assessment?

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