District Implementation

The New York Formative Assessment Project provided professional development, resources, and support to district leaders, principals, math coaches and teachers to support district use of research-based formative assessment classroom practices in mathematics. Math coaches used the research base to help teachers develop a solid understanding of formative assessment knowledge, enabling teachers to apply formative assessment practices in their classrooms. Initial professional development focused most directly on building shared beliefs and knowledge about formative assessment, how it differs from current assessment practices, and how it is more than “just good teaching.” As work progressed and coaches took ownership of leading classroom- and team-based professional learning, the New York Comprehensive Center (NYCC) project staff provided models of effective coaching and facilitation to support classroom coaching. In addition to work with math coaches, NYCC project staff facilitated leadership meetings to build knowledge and skills of formative assessment with district and school administrators.

Over two years, NYCC project staff led 25 professional development sessions and facilitated 15 leadership meetings in district, each designed in a “turn-key” model, so that coaches and leaders could bring the materials and knowledge back to their teachers and school leadership teams to develop building-based implementation strategies. The focus of this work was on building the capacity of district, school and teacher leaders to develop systems that would support classroom formative assessment in mathematics as a vehicle for instructional improvement throughout the district.


  • Rather than portray formative assessment as a recipe of steps to follow or tools to use, this project helped teachers to learn and apply the principles of formative assessment. At the end of the project coaches and teachers reported an understanding that formative assessment implementation can look quite different from classroom to classroom while still adhering to the same principles.
  • Each of the accomplishments in this project was made possible by introductory project work that helped to build a common definition of formative assessment across district leadership teams, building leadership teams, and amongst math coaches.
  • The Formative Assessment project relied on mathematics coaches to deliver content to teachers in each project elementary and middle school. To do this, coaches had to learn about the content of formative assessment as well as develop new skills to deliver effective professional learning to grade level teacher teams and individual teachers.
  • The pilot project began with a focus on mathematics in ten schools, with particular emphasis on professional development for teachers in grades 4 and 5. At the close of the project formative assessment practices had been introduced to additional grades in each of the pilot schools and in all of the district’s middle schools.
  • Formative Assessment practices require that teachers, coaches and building leaders have an understanding of how classroom assessment fits within a broader plan for collecting evidence of student learning. NYCC project staff supported the district to develop knowledge and skills in data literacy, design a district assessment approach, and align assessment processes.
  • NYCC project staff supported work that helped align formative assessment with other district and school improvement initiatives. This is evidenced in the school improvement plans of both pilot and non-pilot schools, where formative assessment is integrated as a core instructional improvement strategy.

The links in the navigation bar to the right provide information and project resources related to district and school support.