Classroom Assessment KnowledgeBase

The Classroom Assessment KnowledgeBase is an online resource for state departments of education to use as part of their professional development efforts with districts and schools. Organized around five elements, it brings together concepts, how-to guidance, tools, and resources about classroom assessment.

Element 1: Determine the Goals of the Formative Assessment

Purpose: Developing effective formative assessments begins with an understanding of the fundamentals. These include being knowledgeable about the basic concepts, being able to define "formative," and establishing goals and objectives for formative assessments. Element 1 outlines these tasks and offers resources for the classroom teacher to gain such understanding.

Activity 1: Understand the Basic Concepts of Formative Assessment

Activity 2: Define Formative Assessment

Activity 3: Determine the Objectives for the Assessment

Element 2: Design or Select the Assessment

Purpose: Assessments used in the classroom can be designed locally by teachers or selected from any number of commercial or other professional sources. Regardless of an assessment's origin, teachers must first plan what they intend to accomplish with the assessment. Upon doing so, they can determine whether a pre-existing or new assessment will best meet their needs.

Activity 1: Plan the Assessment

Activity 2: Evaluate Pre-existing Assessments

Activity 3: Develop Own Assessment

Task 1: Determine When to Use the Assessment


Guideline: Formative assessments enable teachers to assess how well students understand the concepts being taught. In addition to being used in pre- and post-lesson situations, formative assessments are most useful when used informally as teachers adjust instruction in response to how well students are grasping the lesson concepts.

Benefits of Formative Assessment

This National Council of Teachers of Mathematics research brief offers guidance on when to use formative assessment in the classroom.


Curriculum-Based Evaluations

Authored by Dr. Tracey Hall, this Center for Applied Special Technology article provides an overview of curriuclum-based evaluations and their classroom application.


Five "Key Strategies" for Effective Formative Assessment

This National Council of Teachers of Mathematics research brief offers five key strategies for effective formative assessment. It gives teachers insights on when and how to use formative assessment.


Formative Assessment: Helping Students Grow

This article from The Council Chronicle, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, emphasizes the feedback loop between the teacher and student and gives examples of formative assessments being used in the classroom.


Research Institute on Progress Monitoring

This link is to the Research Institute on Progress Monitoring. As noted at its website, "The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has funded the Research Institute on Progress Monitoring to develop a system of progress monitoring to evaluate effects of individualized instruction on access to and progress within the general education curriculum. The Institute is housed at the Institute on Community Integration and the Department of Educational Psychology, Special Education in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. Iowa State University for Science and Technology is a lead collaborator in this research."


Selecting and Administering Assessments

Developed with funding from The Meadows Foundation and the Texas Education Agency, Effective Instruction for Middle School Students with Reading Difficulties: The Reading Teacher's Sourcebook offers middle school reading teachers an overview of research-based instructional approaches for teaching struggling readers. Chapter Two: Selecting and Administering Assessments reviews how different assessment tools can be used in the classroom.


The National Center on Student Progress Monitoring

This link is to the Research Institute on Progress Monitoring (RIPM) funded by the OESP (Office of Special Education Programs).

Element 3: Administer the Assessment

Purpose: Administering assessments includes conducting and scoring. Conducting the assessment addresses the when, where, and how of doing so. Scoring the assessment focuses on the scoring rubric, determining individual scores, and analyzing the results. Both are essential parts of administering the assessment.

Activity 1: Conduct the Assessment

Activity 2: Score the Assessment

Element 4: Understand and Interpret the Assessment Results

Purpose: When used properly, assessment results enhance instruction. It is incumbent upon teachers to understand, know how to interpret, and explain the results effectively to their students, parents, and other district and school staff members.

Activity 1: Produce and Review Assessment Results

Activity 2: Inform and Collect Feedback from Constituencies

Element 5: Make Adjustments in Instruction and Assessment

Purpose: Good assessments provide the basis for making adjustments in instruction as well as future assessments. Assessment results show teachers where changes need to be made in instructional approaches for groups of students or individual students. The assessment outcomes also show students what they need to do to improve their learning. Changes to instruction based on assessment results complete the learning cycle.

Activity 1: Make Adjustments to Instruction

Activity 2: Make Adjustments to the Assessment