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Assessment for Learning: What Policymakers Should Know About Formative Assessment

By Martin Orland, Jan Anderson


Formative assessment in the classroom is a process intended to reveal not just what students are learning, but how they are learning and what might be impeding their understanding. Assessment results help teachers tailor subsequent instruction and help students get a clearer picture of what they need to do to advance their own learning.

Formative assessment directly supports teaching and learning by providing valuable feedback about:

  • How students are thinking
  • Whether or not students are absorbing what is being taught
  • Misunderstandings or misconceptions that might be getting in the way of learning

Policymakers, educators, researchers, and even parents are calling for more balanced assessment systems. To achieve this balance, education systems must improve the quality and use of formative assessment.

This policy brief, written by Martin Orland and WestEd’s Janice Anderson, highlights the formative component of next-generation assessment systems and makes recommendations for state and federal policymakers.

Additional WestEd resources on formative assessment are availableĀ online.

Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2013
Format: PDF
Pages: 8
Publisher: WestEd