Have we ever stopped to think what exactly marks and grades assess? Marks and grades do not assess how much learning a student has done. Rather they assess if students meet a certain standard of excellence, which has been set by either a teacher, the school or the state/central government.
These marks and grades that most schools place emphasis on, they fall under the umbrella of summative assessments. Summative assessments gauge if a student is ready to move on to the next class, or join college, on the basis of their marks/grades. They do not assess if a student understands a concept or is falling behind in class or could do with further instruction because they are developmentally ahead of their classmates.
To an extent, summative assessment makes sense. However, in the long run they do not tell you the most important things you need to know about a student’s performance. This is where formative assessments come in. The term “formative assessment” does not have a defined meaning. However, most educational researchers do agree that at its very core, what formative assessment does is assess how much learning a student has done, how can a teacher teach their students better, and in general, how can the process of learning be optimized.
Teachers might understandably be afraid of formative assessment because there isn’t the time to individually look at each child, not when there are so much material left to cover. However, here’s a secret: formative assessments need not be complicated.
For the most part, they can be simple and easily marked. Here are a few resources you can utilize in order to include formative in your classroom.
1. Edutopia has an exhaustive list of the different types of formative assessments that you can use in the classroom.
2. Scholastic has an entire text of formative assessments uploaded which have 25 detailed kinds of formative assessments that you can use.
3. The Illinois State Board of Education has a sample selection of formative assessments uploaded, along with examples as to what the assessments could be. Mind you, this selection of assessments follows the US’s Common Core curriculum and as such might not be directly transferable to our Indian schools. All the same it cannot hurt to have a look.
4. The University of Victoria, Canada has uploaded a pdf with a selection of 54 different kinds of formative assessments that a teacher can utilize within the classroom.