Do you remember your first attempts to ride a bicycle, roller blade, or drive a car? Odds are you needed the help of someone who was watching you and who gave specific advice. Formatively speaking, your skills were formed based on trial and error coupled with feedback. Learning occurred based on someone observing your effort and advising you shortly thereafter.
In the classroom, this type of support is replicated when a teacher adjusts instruction based on what he/she observes from a student. Formative assessment aims towards mastery of a skill, concept, or behaviors. In contrast, grades are used to evaluate student learning in a summative manner as if the time for teaching and learning has been completed. While there is a place for summative feedback, the impact of formative assessments guides the students to new levels of learning.
Knowing how the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing has grabbed the news, I am interested in hearing how you may be using formative assessments to guide students to reach the common core standards' results.