Formative Assessment

In the spirit of changeformative assessment is the new order of educational intervention in our school systems.  Through research, it is acknowledged as the leading initiative to improve student achievement.  It’s implementation is rooted in teacher learning communities in which teachers share student data with one another.

In the classroom, teachers and students collect evidence  to what they are learning and adjust their instructional methods and procedures.   In other words, teachers and students are assessing themselves hands-on and ongoing.  However, for formative assessment to utilized properly, educational leaders and teachers must be willing to act on change. As Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity has said.

It is generally easier to get people to act their way into a new of thinking than it is to get them to think their way into a new way of acting.

Teacher Learning Communities (TLC) are brainstorming groups which operate similar to a small business firm that meets regularly to assess quarterly gains or losses.  It gathers data to improve performance and revenue.  Conceptualizing your classroom as your small business could be the blueprint for student learning by allowing students to gain ownership and take part in what they are to learn.  A component of formative assessment suggests that:

Students should be owners of their own work using agreed-on criteria for success” and also “encourage students to be instructional resources for one another.  Dylan Wiliam, Changing Classroom Practice. p37

Keeping students engaged and involved in the learning process can produce a wealth of information for student assessment in TLC’s.  Like a business, everyone must work together.

Building TLC’s to sustain formative assessment requires teamwork in it’s truest meaning, its an attitude that every colleague involved shares and acknowledges. Although administrators and educational professionals play an significant role in support of TLC’s, formative assessment is based in the classroom where teachers and students adjust what they planned or are planning to do. Therefore, educational leaders must be supportive in their roles to provide  leadership, motivation, and feedback for members of  TLC.

In closing, formative assessment based in teacher learning communities is the new order for student learning in our school systems.  It’s a time for educational leaders and teachers to put aside personal agenda’s and act on change by utilizing all the  tools and resources available to improve student achievement.  In a business oriented society, there’s no government bailout equivalent to the value of our children’s education.