Classroom formative assessment is informed by research from a variety of subjects, including assessment literacy, data use, cognition, effective classroom interventions, and student motivation/engagement. The training team on the New York Formative Assessment Project provided frequent opportunities for state and district level staff to engage in review and analysis of research so that individuals could build their understanding of formative assessment through analysis of key findings from a variety of related domains. The following five research categories each contain a brief selection of annotated references that our clients found most useful during the project:
Research base for formative assessment: Literature and research in this topic helped participants to better understand the definition of classroom formative assessment. Readings in this section helped clients appreciate the impact of formative assessment on student achievement. This research also indicates that to implement formative assessment there must be significant changes in practice for both teachers and students related to collecting evidence of learning, feedback, and effective strategies for corrective techniques.
Definitions and attributes of formative assessment: Various educational researchers have developed guidance regarding the effective principles of classroom formative assessment. Several examples are included in this section. Initially our team found these frameworks helpful to explore how formative assessment is different from “just good instruction.” As teachers developed proficiency implementing classroom formative assessment practices, our trainers found these documents helpful, in particular, to explore trainees’ understanding of how varied formative assessment practices work in concert to support daily classroom instruction.
Formative assessment as part of assessment systems: Effective classroom formative assessment practices are informed by knowledge of assessment literacy, qualities of effective assessments, and how formative assessment practices are aligned within a district or state assessment framework. Research in this section helped our clients better understand these issues. In Syracuse, for example, these readings led to discussions that resulted in development of a district assessment framework, which was a useful communication tool as coaches began work with teachers to implement classroom formative assessment.
Using formative assessment in the classroom: Literature in this section explores what teachers and school leaders need to consider in order to adopt new instructional practices aligned with classroom formative assessment. Specifically, these articles explore the types of school-site professional development that best support teachers to deepen their content knowledge, learn how to collect evidence of learning during classroom lessons, and learn how to adjust instruction based on evidence.
Characteristics of effective feedback: Classroom formative assessment entails the use of effective feedback strategies in which both teachers and students are engaged in identifying gaps in learning and clarifying the next steps in learning. Syracuse teachers reported that this shift towards student-involved feedback required significant changes in classroom routines to include regular opportunities for teacher feedback, self-assessment and peer-assessment. Research in this section was helpful to define characteristics of effective feedback.