Reports & Proceedings

Using Formative Assessment to Drive Learning

From The Noyce Foundation, November 2009.


Ironically, American public education seems unable to learn and improve. Classroom instruction has remained virtually unchanged for decades, despite endless cycles of reform and a growing body of educational research (Weiss, Pasley, Smith, Banilower & Heck, 2003). This lack of progress is attributable to the current structure and culture of American education, which does not support rigorous practice. As each innovation gains widespread attention, a wave of superficial implementation efforts sweep across the educational community. Without the support required to do rigorous new work, the attempted innovation is stripped down to its simplest and most familiar elements; in the process, the most challenging elements, which are also necessary to the efficacy of the practice, are simply ignored (Fullan, 2007; Schmoker, 2006). Formative assessment is currently moving toward center stage on the national scene; and not surprisingly, it appears that most formative assessment efforts lack attention to the rigorous elements that are critical to potential effectiveness.


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