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Why is it Necessary for Schools to Move Towards Formative Assessments

Why is it Necessary for Schools to Move Towards Formative Assessments

Assessments have had a major breakthrough in the K-12 learning landscape. In the present day, assessments are done to understand individual learning, unlike earlier wherein assessments only meant how much memory a child has.  Formative assessments promote learning-oriented goals instead of test-oriented results and bridge the learning gaps. It helps educators evaluate /understand the critical information regarding the comprehension abilities of individual students throughout the learning process with the help of feedback. Timely action-oriented steps and changes in approach give students a chance to learn and re-learn. This blog is going to focus on why it is necessary for schools to move towards formative assessments.

Summative Assessment vs Formative Assessment

In summative assessment, grades/marks provide insights about a student's overall academic performance. It takes place after the learning process is finished. However, it fails to offer insights about what the student has learnt in the academic year. Summative assessments promote set norms and standardized expectations.

In contrast,  formative assessment monitors students' learning and progress but also gives timely feedback to educators. It enables facilitators to identify the deficiencies in students' learning, using timely and targeted interventions and adjust their instructional practices per individual learning needs.

This makes formative assessment even more beneficial: 

1. Formative assessment helps improve students' achievements and engagement, is affordable and allows teachers to use composite instructional strategies.

2. Formative assessment occurs at regular intervals- between the lessons or units that provide insights about students' achievements and allow teachers to make timely informed decisions.

3. Formative assessment provides valuable insights regarding the teacher's strengths, shortcomings and style. It leads to higher professional development and satisfaction.

How does formative assessment benefit classroom teaching?
  • Regular monitoring of individual student's progress by teachers- Students become self-regulated learners when monitoring is done regularly.
  • Increases engagement and interactions:  the teachers can connect students to real-world problems.
  • Regular assessment feedback highlights learning voids, diverse teaching practices, and procedures implemented in the classroom that may be outdated in the present scenario.
  • The educators understand the learning needs of students who are struggling academically throughout the year.
  • The current knowledge and learning goals of students are aligned with the formative assessment.
  • Mutual respect and bonding strengthen between a teacher and students.

If the classroom environment promotes collaboration, responsibility, and participation, it increases the chances of desired results and achievements.

Forms of formative assessment
Classroom polls

Polls are an excellent way to assess students understanding, accuracy and takeaways regarding a classroom topic. Even shy students can participate in class polls, for example, Google Forms.

One minute essay

The students can quickly jot down the key takeaways regarding a finished lesson. They learn to present their views in a structured way in a limited time.

Projects

Students present their learning by creating posters, flashcards, presentations, diagrams.

Discussions/debates

To understand the in-depth knowledge of students, the teachers can plan higher-order thinking questions related to the specific topic. 

Voice it

Teachers can pose a question related to a lesson/topic and students can write their answers on sticky notes, Google Classroom, in the form of videos.

Talk shows

Students can host talk shows and prepare questionnaires to interview peers as historical figures or characters of their choice.

Top 5

The students can make a list of the top five takeaways after the topic/lesson is finished.

Roll the Dice

The teacher can ask students to give answers as per rolled dice number

1 - Write one thing you knew about the topic

2 - Two things that surprised you regarding the topic

3 - Things that you have learnt during the lesson

4 - Write four new words you learned today

Formative assessment during the learning process

A teacher can assess the learning progress of each student even before the topic/lesson is over. There are no key criteria to understand the progress, but it can take form in any environment, subject or format.

The main aspects of these assessments are: -

  • Formative assessment does not support grades. It's like any daily give and take activity between the teacher and students after completing a specific objective. It becomes easy for teachers to comprehend whether the targeted result is achieved or not.
  • Teachers can plan any kind of activity to check each student's learning progress related to any specific skill or knowledge. It helps in identifying challenges and obstacles quickly and provides timely solutions.
  • Peer feedback is helpful for self-assessment, and students can ask teachers for further assistance if they struggle with any topic/subject. This way, teachers reflect on their teaching methods and strategies and adopt/modify a new technique if required.

What challenges schools can face while implementing formative assessment 

Concerns with large classes - The teachers cannot give adequate time to monitor and individualized attention to the students.

Difficulties with an extensive curriculum - The teachers may not apply different instructional strategies even after noticing the learning deficiencies.

Untrained teachers - Inadequate resources, no training materials, unsupportive school culture, and no investment in teachers' training may not allow teachers to enhance their professional development.

Weightage to summative assessment - Many schools and parents focus on highlighting grades; the teacher cannot adjust their teaching methodologies as per the evaluation results.

Overburdening – Teachers must juggle many duties along with finishing curricula on time. The formative assessment (monitoring, evaluation, implementation) may overburden them in their work area.

Lack of technology - Formative assessment requires robust technology support to monitor the quality of assessments and practices. Insightful decisions are implemented after analyzing the assessment data. 

FAQs

1. How are diagnostic assessments different from formative assessments?

It's a pretest to understand what a child knows or doesn't know whereas formative assessment takes place during the learning process.

2. How formative assessments help students in a class?

Students can explore and experiment with various activities to understand the subject/lesson in a better way.

3. How formative assessments benefit teachers?

With the help of formative assessments, teachers can reflect on their teaching styles and methodologies. They can adjust their teaching style and instructional materials as per the learning needs of students.

4. How does continuous evaluation benefit a school?

It is a part of daily classroom practice to avoid learning gaps and addresses the educational growth and priorities of each student.

Academic challenges are faced by many students, and due to these, they have low confidence levels. At times, it becomes difficult for teachers to monitor each and every student they teach. 

Formative assessment is the easiest way to keep the students engaged, along with active participation. The educators at Bambinos customize the learning process of children, keeping their learning needs in mind. Personalizing the learning process instils confidence, motivation, and engagement during the online classroom session. The educators assess the children through various activities in a fun and engaging environment. Whether it's practices, tech or mindset, Bambinos not only adopt diverse teaching–learning methods but train and prepare educators with new changes to make them future-ready.

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Karuna Sinh

Karuna Sinh competent professional with over 20 years of experience in sectors ranging from Teaching, Hospitality, Freelancing content writing, Administration & Management.

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