What is the Purpose of a Learning Target in Formative Assessment?

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WhatisthePurposeofaLearningTargetinFormativeAssessmentTuttle (2009) explains that “Curriculum and instruction are not based on a textbook but on the standards that all students are to meet through differentiated instruction. Also, assessments are not used to determine a grade but to inform students of expectations and achievements. In the same manner, student feedback is much more than just a letter grade; student feedback focuses on progress toward meeting the standards. Students do more than focus on the current activity; they describe where they are in the learning progress and know what they can do to achieve the learning goals.”

For classroom formative assessment practices to both motivate students and increase student achievement, students need to know the learning target, know where they are at in regards to the learning target, and know what they can do to close the gap. According to Stiggins, there are seven strategies specific to assessing learning including:

  1. Provide a clear and understandable vision of the learning targets.
  2. Use examples and models of strong (exemplars) and weak work.
  3. Offer regular descriptive feedback.
  4. Teach students to self-assess and set goals.
  5. Design lessons to focus on one aspect of quality at a time.
  6. Teach students focused revision.
  7. Engage students in self-reflection, and let them keep track of and share their learning.

Stiggins, R.J. (2008) Assessment Manifesto: A Call for the Development of Balance Assessment Systems. A position paper published by the ETS Assessment Training Institute, Portland, Oregon.

Tuttle, H.G. (2009). Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.

Discuss here:How can you communicate learning targets clearly to students?

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