Teacher Reflections

Formative v. Summative Assessment

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJxFXjfB_B4]

I just saw this video by Rick Wormeli and found it to be a good refresher on the difference between formative and summative assessment. The most useful insight was the steps to effective descriptive/written feedback:

  1. Help student discover or point out what the goal of the assignment was
  2. Indicate where the student is in relation to that goal
  3. Plan how the student can close the gap between the goal and their current performance.

The impact of an assessment only has significant value if they get valuable feedback from it. This formative assessment should clearly and directly affect your curriculum and lesson decisions.

In addition, I read an article written by Wormeli in 2008 on the same topic. His most keen ideas were:

  • True formative assessment provokes: it compels a response in the teacher and student.
  • True formative feedback would be “contextualized and the student is given the opportunity to revise her thinking and subsequent performance in light of that feedback”
  • Students that struggle the most generally have the least awareness of the lesson’s goals and their progress towards achieving them. When they gain this awareness their performance improves
  • The format of the assessment itself doesn’t determine if its formative or summative. How we use the data from the assessment determines if it’s formative or summative.


  • As long as teachers use the data to revise their instructional strategies and allow for student improvement, the assessment can be formative
  •  Formative assessments focus on specific parts of curriculum for more targeted feedback
  • “Examples of useful formative assessments include half- to one-page quick-writes, exit cards, oral responses to clarifying questions, thumbs up/down, buttons pressed on audience response system “clickers,” metaphor/analogy generation, completing graphic organizers, observing body language and facial expressions, practice problems/sentences, skill demonstrations, and think-alouds.”
  • Formative assessments can be informal but shouldn’t be left to chance, they should be strategic
  • Formative assessments should not be marked for a grade.
  • Make notes on clipboard other note sheet during class
  • Self-assessment is key
  • Of particular importance today: academically struggling students have the most dramatic gains when teachers employ frequent formative assessment”
I need to more deliberately plan my formative assessment while making lesson plans. The most common that I plan on using is exit-slip note cards where students simply respond to the question: What did you learn today that added or changed your understanding of the essential question for the unit? What new question(s) do you have?
I will also ask students to more frequently briefly respond to what they read: what they learned, what they were confused about and what questions or connections can be created from the text.
Share This Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *