Formative Assessment Practices to Support Student Learning

January 30, 2015 / by Dr. Chrystyna Mursky

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an organization of member states committed to providing tools and resources that support teaching and learning. The three core components of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System are summative assessments, interim assessments, and formative assessment practices. The videos in this series demonstrate how teachers implement the intent of the Common Core State Standards using the Formative Assessment Process. They were created as components of interactive modules in the Smarter Balanced Digital Library, but we are pleased to share them with you on Teaching Channel's website.

Formative assessment is a deliberate process used by teachers and students during instruction that provides actionable feedback used to adjust ongoing teaching and learning strategies to improve students' attainment of curricular learning targets/goals.

Formative Assessment Process

There are four attributes in the Formative Assessment Process:

  • Clarify intended learning
  • Elicit evidence
  • Interpret evidence
  • Act on evidence

All of the videos in this series include the four attributes of the Formative Assessment Process and are segmented to highlight each attribute.

In the video segments focusing on clarifying intended learning, you will see teachers and students defining the learning goals and success criteria for the instructional task. For instance, in the video Formative Assessment: Collaborative Discussions, Kelly Bouchard engages her students in creating success criteria using guiding questions about what a collaborative discussion looks like.

See a variety of ways that teachers and students elicit evidence in the segments focusing on this attribute. In Formative Assessment: Understanding Fractions, you'll see fourth grade teacher Melissa Romano circulating around the room, asking questions, listening to students explain their thinking, and recording observational notes on student progress as partners work on candy factory problems.

Learn how teachers and students interpret evidence in the segments focusing on this attribute. For example, in Formative Assessment: Proportional Relationships, students in Charles Elsdon's seventh grade math class use a rubric to interpret evidence of their own and their peers' learning. Mr. Elsdon and the students identify the success criteria students meet and those they do not yet meet. They use this interpretation to adjust teaching and learning strategies.

The final segments spotlighting acting on evidence demonstrate how teachers and students adjust teaching and learning. Watch Formative Assessment: Understanding Congruence and see how high school math teacher April Pforts decides when students are ready to apply their learning about congruent figures to real world applications.

The teachers and students in this series provide a window into the Formative Assessment Process. We are pleased to have partnered with the innovative educators, engaging students, and Teaching Channel to create the videos and hope you find them informative.

Topics: Assessment, Video Playlist

Dr. Chrystyna Mursky

Written by Dr. Chrystyna Mursky

Dr. Chrystyna Mursky is the Director of Supports for Instruction for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. She oversees the Consortium's initiatives related to the formative assessment process and professional learning opportunities for educators. With more than 30 years of education experience, Dr. Mursky has taught or served as an administrator at every level, from K-12 to higher education. For more information about Smarter Balanced, visit the website at or follow on Twitter @SmarterBalanced.

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