Formative Assessment

Posted by tricialauter on August 5, 2011

Looking for various examples of formative assessments, I have come across these two sites recently. To include multiliteracies into the curriculum and the 21st century classroom, there must be a restructuring of assessment. Summative assessments may have their place, but formative assessments provide “as you go” evaluation of a student’s learning-providing a clearer picture of what the student understands and how he or she can synthesize the information within their own lives. This can allow education to be intuitive to students’ needs. But as the burgeoning market of assessments have grown (along with NCLB), testing companies have found a way to package a truly summative assessment and label it formative. As Stephen and Jan Chappius (2008) state, “In reality, this level of testing is often little more than a series of minisummative tests, not always tightly aligned to what was taught in the classroom. There is nothing inherently formative in such tests—they may or may not be used to make changes in teaching that will lead to greater student learning.” Formative assessment is to be “on-going” and “dynamic”; creating an environment where teacher and student use the assessments to encourage further and deeper learning. Providing feedback on a continuous basis, and supporting the development of skills such as self-assessment, can transform a monolithic classroom into a classroom where student and teacher work together to improve learning. One way to provide this two way system is utilizing e-portfolios.

E-Portfolios ( A digital collection of pieces of work that are multimedia in form, e-portfolios allow interaction between the creator (student) and the viewer (teacher or peers). Viewers can provide informative feedback, creators can include various works that provide a broader picture of the skills and knowledge they have, and the portfolio can be edited and added upon as the student progresses through school. When shared among peers, e-portfolios can encourage collective learning.

Cognitive Tutor ( The cognitive tutor is a  computer learning based program that provides real-time feedback and adjusts the problems and pace of learning dependent on the needs of the student. Providing interactive and multimodal approaches to learning math skills, the Cognitive Tutor assesses a students skill as they progress through the program. If the student is struggling with a certain concept, the program will generate new problems that target the student’s weak area.

As policies are enacted that support assessment of all students, the type of assessments must be considered. If we are to truly know the knowledge and skills a student possesses, we must acknowledge the fact that we may not see a complete picture when looking at summative results. Other considerations and additional assessments must be considered.


Chappius, J. & Chappius, S. (2008). The Best Value in Formative Assessment. Educational Leadership, 65, 4, 14-19.


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