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Formative Assessment in Practice: A Process of Inquiry and Action

By Margaret Heritage

Cover for Formative Assessment in Practice


In this era of Common Core State Standards and the effort to develop appropriate assessments to accompany them, formative assessment has attracted increasing attention from policymakers and practitioners alike.

This book, written by WestEd’s Margaret Heritage, is a practical guide to formative assessment as a process of “inquiry and action” essential to 21st-century learning.

The approach is grounded in a “children’s rights” framework—that is, the belief that:

  • Assessment should be in the best interest of all students
  • Students should be involved in the decisions that ensue from assessment use
  • Opportunities to learn, progress, and succeed will be available to all children equally

The book addresses the students’ own role in learning about themselves as learners and examines the classroom as a community of practice. It also includes chapters on learning progressions and the policy contexts that support formative assessment.

Skillfully interweaving theory and practice, this book promises to be an invaluable resource for teachers, teacher educators, and those interested in the academic and policy aspects of assessment.

Resource Details

Product Information

ISBN: 978-1-61250-551-0
Copyright: 2013
Format: Trade Paper
Pages: 176
Publisher: Harvard Education Press

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Praise for this Resource

  • [Heritage’s] analysis of formative assessment reflects the real-world, what’s-next thinking of a seasoned practitioner and, at the same time, the carefully documented, thoroughly researched approach of a full-fledged academic. Her readers are fortunate that she could not keep those two worlds apart.

    From the Foreword by W. James Popham, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles
  • In this thoughtful book, Margaret Heritage shows that when it is done well, formative assessment is really a set of orientations that the best teachers use all the time. She shows how great teachers constantly place evidence—about what students learned and what they need to do next—at the heart of their practice, helping students achieve more and become better learners.

    Dylan Wiliam, Professor Emeritus, University of London
  • Heritage argues for a children’s rights approach that allows students to develop skills in becoming autonomous learners. Guiding the teacher through the use of learning progressions, the collection of evidence, and the process of inquiry, she highlights the power of formative assessment to close the achievement gap for all learners.

    Gabriela Cardenas, Demonstration Teacher, UCLA Lab School