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«Approved by the NCTE Executive Committee October 21, 2013 Effective teachers are constantly engaged in the process of formative assessment: offering one ...»

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In this article Heritage defines formative assessment as often implemented in the classroom as part of a learning cycle: on-the-fly, planned-for, and curriculum-embedded. She suggests that four core elements comprise formative assessment and that teachers need to have a clear understanding of them. She also suggests that teachers need specific knowledge and skills in order to use formative assessment successfully.

Landrigan, C., & Mulligan, T. (2013). Assessment in perspective: Focusing on the readers behind the numbers. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

This book takes a close look at assessment that focuses on children. While acknowledging the amount of pressure current mandates are putting on teachers, Landrigan and Mulligan put things in perspective so that teachers can focus on the authentic, daily assessments that improve instruction. The authors argue that a single number does not tell the whole story of a child’s literacy and that empowering students to take a role in their assessment is critical. This book shares strategies for using information to help teachers understand each child’s strengths and needs. The book acknowledges that the teacher decision making is what matters most in a classroom when it comes to assessment.

Murphy, S., & Smith, M. A. (2013). Assessment challenges in the common core era. English Journal, 103.1, 104–110.

Building on the work of Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam, the authors argue for the value of a portfolio-based assessment system in providing formative and summative assessment information about student writers/writing. They point to key features of portfolios as sites of formative assessment, namely their embedded nature in the teaching and learning context, their involvement of the student in metacognitive reflection on both product and process, and the wealth of information they generate that can guide instructional decision making.

Overmeyer, M. (2009). What student writing teaches us: Formative assessment in the writing workshop. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Overmeyer includes sections that clarify the distinction between formative and summative assessment, noting the central role of teacher observation in the formative assessment process. Overmeyer highlights his belief that formative assessment involves teachers deliberately developing and/or changing their teaching plans based on their observations of students and their writing. Chapter three is specifically focused on the ways that teachers provide feedback to students and how this feedback functions as a type of formative assessment.

Pinchok, N., & Brandt, W. C. (2009). Connecting formative assessment research to practice: An introductory guide for educators.

Washington, DC: Learning Point Associates.

This Research to Practice Brief was published to increase the knowledge and “build the capacity” of local and state school staff and leaders to implement effective formative assessments. The authors define formative assessment, review commonly used school-based assessments, and delineate the formative assessment process. The brief also provides suggestions for involving district- and state-level leaders in formative assessment practices.

Serafini, F. (2000/2001). Three paradigms of assessment: Measurement, procedure, and inquiry. The Reading Teacher, 54.4, 384–393.

The author argues that as curriculum has developed from a series of facts to be memorized, to activities to be completed, to knowledge to be constructed through inquiry, so has assessment shifted from an act of measurement to a process of teacher and student inquiry. He envisions teachers as active creators of knowledge about their students and offers practical suggestions for supporting teachers in this work, including providing time and support for shifting the purposes and audiences for assessment.

Serafini, F. (2010). Classroom reading assessments: More efficient ways to view and evaluate your readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Serafini describes assessments as “windows” through which teachers observe their students, acknowledging that there are many windows to choose from and all of them are limited in terms of what they allow us to see and understand. The power of these assessment “windows,” in a context of inquiry, is that they help to make us better observers of students. The book is clearly organized with a wealth of practical examples and includes explanations of the research support for the practices he advocates. Chapter 2 provides an in-depth look at the processes and lenses teachers use as they generate assessment information about their students. Throughout the book, Serafini highlights the central role of the classroom teacher in the assessment process.

nd Shagoury, R., & Power, B. (2012). Living the questions: A guide for teacher-researchers (2 ed.). Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Learning to use observations and careful study of student artifacts of learning is critical to being able to use assessment to inform instruction. Shagoury and Power provide detailed examples of the ways teachers generate and collect information about their students.

The focus is on learning to look closely at students engaged in the learning process and at the work they create, in order to build a more complex understanding of what students are learning and working at understanding. Although the primary purpose of the book is to support teacher-researchers, the stances and strategies are useful for teachers who do not see themselves as researchers, but who view assessment through an inquiry stance.

Stephens, D. (2013). Reading assessment: Artful teachers, successful students. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Edited by Diane Stephens, this book offers portraits of elementary classroom teachers and literacy coaches as they use a variety of formative assessments to improve reading practices of young students. As these literacy professionals show how and why they use multiple assessments, we watch them take control of their own classrooms as they use the results of those assessments to determine meaningful instruction for young readers. This book is part of NCTE’s Principles in Practice imprint, based in the IRA-NCTE Standards for the Assessment of Reading and Writing.

Tomlinson, C. (Dec. 2007/Jan. 2008). Learning to love assessment. Educational Leadership, 65.4, 8–13.

In this brief and highly readable article, Tomlinson outlines the progression of her thinking about classroom assessment. In explaining each new critical insight, she helps teachers understand how reflecting on their practice can lead to more sophisticated understanding of the teacher-learning process and the central role of “informative” assessment in that process. Tomlinson stresses the value of adopting an “assessment as learning” stance—a stance that supports teacher learning as well as student learning.

Tovani, C. (2011). So what do they really know? Assessment that informs teaching and learning. Stenhouse.

Tovani provides an in-depth look at the ways she assesses students in her classroom and what she has learned along the way about the assessment process. She divides assessment into two categories: formative assessment that is designed to help her shape and adjust her teaching and summative assessment that is to determine what students have learned and where students are "ranked" on a particular skill.

The specific classroom examples and forms highlight the ways she gathers, organizes, reflects on, and uses this important data in order to plan for instruction.

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Permission is granted to reproduce in whole or in part the material in this publication, with proper credit to the National Council of Teachers of English. Because of specific local problems, some schools may wish to modify the statements and arrange separately for printing or duplication. In such cases, of course, it should be made clear that revised statements appear under the authorization and sponsorship of the local school or association, not NCTE.

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