Before I get into what I think formative assessment looks like in secondary math, let me define my terms. Since I work for these guys, I will base my discussion around their definitions.
Assessment of Learning – assessment experiences designed to collect information about learning to make judgments about student performance and achievement at the end of a period of instruction to be shared with those outside classrooms (also called summative assessment; refers to performance data compiled as a grade)
Assessment for Learning – assessment experiences that result in an ongoing exchange of information between students and teachers about student progress toward clearly specified learner outcomes (also called diagnostic and formative assessment; refers to information not used for grading purposes)
For me, what makes something summative is that it is a judgment that gets shared outside the classroom. Schools that have bins weighted zero in an electronic grade book labelled “formative”, have crossed into a grey area here, in my opinion, partly because those zero weighted grades get reported out to parents, and partly because a grade is not an effective form of feedback (Butler, 1988)
Formative assessment is all about the feedback. It is feedback for the student. What does he/she still need to learn? It is feedback for the teacher. What can I do to help my class and my individual students master the curriculum?
Remember, formative assessment isn’t always a thing. I am going to spend the next few posts elaborating on classroom practices, rather than photocopyable things. Certainly that quiz you use mid-unit to see how your kids are doing but don’t count for marks is formative assessment. We all know that. What I will look at is other ways of getting feedback to and from students.