Revising the Definition of Formative Assessment

Revising the Definition of Formative Assessment Cover

This resource provides an overview of the FAST SCASS's revised definition on formative assessment, originally published in 2006. The revised definition includes an overview of the attributes of effective formative assessment and emphasizes new areas emerging from current research, theory and practice.

FAST SCASS also released An Integrated Approach to Defining a System-Level Theory of Action for Formative Assessment, which is a companion resource to the revised definition. This resource puts forward a theory of action that outlines the system-wide inputs required to effect formative assessment.

A Revised Definition of Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment is a planned, ongoing process used by all students and teachers during learning and teaching to elicit and use evidence of student learning to improve student understanding of intended disciplinary learning outcomes and support students to become self-directed learners. Effective use of the formative assessment process requires students and teachers to integrate and embed the following practices in a collaborative and respectful classroom environment:

  • Clarifying learning goals and success criteria within a broader progression of learning;
  • Eliciting and analyzing evidence of student thinking;
  • Engaging in self-assessment and peer feedback;
  • Providing actionable feedback; and
  • Using evidence and feedback to move learning forward by adjusting learning strategies, goals, or next instructional steps.

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