On a daily basis, students need to know how they are doing and teachers need to know how to move learning forward. That is the gist of formative assessment practice, which is a critical component of meaningful instructional practice. It puts students at the center of their learning, with teachers leading the way.
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We know that well-implemented formative assessment practice can support students and teachers to improve learning outcomes. In 2015, we commissioned a study with Education First to get a better understanding of how educators were using formative assessment practices in their classrooms. It involved working with teachers in the Austin, Denver and Metro Nashville school districts to learn how, and how well, teachers in these districts use data to inform instruction on a daily basis.
One big learning from the study? Teachers generally have positive beliefs about the importance of incorporating formative assessment practices into their regular routines.
But this same study also showed that there is significant variation in teachers’ effectiveness as they work to implement formative assessment practice.
And so the challenge for us in the field is this:
Knowing that traditional approaches to professional development too often do not result in sustained changes in classroom practice, how might we systematically support teachers to develop into exemplary formative assessment practitioners?
To address this challenge, we brought together Education First, Getting Smart, WestEd, and Brookhart Enterprises to implement the “How I Know: Designing Meaningful Formative Assessment Practice” project. Three districts – Austin Independent School District (ISD), Dallas ISD, and Tulsa Public Schools – have committed to the two-year initiative. Collectively, this network aims to identify, scale and share successful approaches to improve formative assessment practice in classrooms.
This project will:
- Convene a network of 60 educators across three districts
- Coach educators to understand the strengths and opportunities in their current formative assessment practice
- Create and pilot a range of professional learning models to support teachers in becoming exemplary practitioners
- Share lessons learned from pilot classrooms with the field
Over the next two years, we will be telling the stories of these educators, sharing lessons learned and taking a deep dive into the practice of Formative Assessment. We invite you to follow this journey and learn alongside us as we gain an even better understanding of the practice of Formative Assessment. So don’t just visit the How I Know website, bookmark it! We’re excited to get started!