Ongoing observations and methods of evaluation designed to measure student comprehension of a concept or task in order to identify areas that require enhanced or adapted instruction. It emphasizes the mastery of classroom content instead of the earning of grades or test scores and is conducted throughout the entire instructional process to gauge students’ progress.

Results are then used to adapt instruction to meet students’ needs. Feedback is also used to help students achieve their learning goals and takes the form of specific suggestions for improvement and discussion of errors rather than merely providing the correct answer.

Examples of formative assessments include journals, learning logs, the minute paper, concept maps, directed summarization, anecdotal records, diagnostic tests, and quizzes.

Teachers can build in many opportunities to assess how students are learning and then use this information to

make beneficial changes in instruction. This diagnostic use of assessment to provide feedback to teachers and students over the course of instruction is called formative assessment . It stands in contrast to summative assessment , which generally takes place after a period of instruction and requires making a judgment about the learning that has occurred.

So I have changed my views of teaching over the years based on the above thoughts. I am always looking at ways to change student view of assessment. We do not write tests or quizzes instead we do check ins and review projects. I have thrown away the idea of a final exam and instead I am looking at cumulative projects in math and science.

This year my students have asked is there an exam and I say no you are already doing the exam. I find that students working on the exam review show me they have acquired the knowledge this year or are still trying to gain the knowledge. What does the exam show.... stress, brain farts, pressure and not what they really know.

If a student can make a game based on the math this year or develop and design a T-shirt with a witty math phrase on it, they are showing knowledge has been gained. Lets re-evaluate our assessment practices and think of a new way. As we are on the cusp of the new curriculum and the new core competencies now is the time. Lets break free of the old ways and really look at what knowledge we want our students to gain and how they can show this growth to the teacher.


I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.

BC educator....  @rilmcknight