The Classroom Assessment KnowledgeBase

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

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

Task 2: Collaborate Among District and School Staff Members


Guideline: The principal and teachers comprise a learning community focused on blending formative assessment with instruction. Teachers using formative assessment can share their experiences and practices with colleagues less engaged with formative assessment. Talking about formative assessment during staff meetings and in the teachers' lounge is a good starting place.

Examining Student Work

This Maryland Department of Education online workshop reviews how to plan an examination of student work and lead a team through the process. Its focus is on teachers collaborating to examine student work. Though oriented toward the Maryland state assessment system, the content may be useful for all teachers.

Looking at Student Work

This link to the Looking at Student Work website provides teachers with resources for revieiwng student work.


Professional Learning Communities at School

Professional learning communities offer teachers a way to interact and collaborate with their colleagues on instructional issues. This North Carolina Department of Public Instruction resource offers an overview of professional learning communities and explores what they are, why they are important, and how they are created.


Professional Learning Communities: What Are They And Why Are They Important?

This SEDL website provides an overview of professional learning communities.


Turf Issues

Individual group members often have divergent viewpoints. Turf issues can arise between group members and groups within a school, district, or community. This document offers a basic guide for addressing turf issues when they arise.

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