Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction to obtain feedback that is used to adjust instruction to improve student learning. Sometimes classroom-based assessments that are used to inform instruction and other curriculum-based measures are referred to as “formative assessments.”

Formative assessment processes, classroom-based assessments, and other non-summative assessments (e.g., interim, benchmark, diagnostic) are key parts of a comprehensive assessment system. These assessments provide information that is used to guide instruction.  Universal design principles can be used to maximize the accessibility of formative assessments.

Students with disabilities, English learners (ELs), and ELs with disabilities should be included in formative assessment processes, classroom-based assessments, and other non-summative assessments to the same extent that other students are included in them. Participation guidelines with clear criteria will support sound decision making.

The participation decision-making process for these assessments should be the same as that used for state assessments. For students with disabilities and ELs with disabilities who receive special education services, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team should make the decision. For students with disabilities and ELs with disabilities who have a 504 accommodation plan, a school-based decision-making team should be involved. For ELs without disabilities, a team-based approach is desirable, although not required.

Some students with disabilities, ELs, and ELs with disabilities will need accessibility features and accommodations 

to meaningfully access formative assessment processes, classroom-based assessments, and other non-summative assessments. Access and accommodations for these assessments should be provided consistently and appropriately to ensure valid measurement. 

Related Publications

Forum on Addressing Performance Gaps of Low-performing Students: Implications for Assessment and Instruction

Formats: PDF

NCEO Brief: Including Students with Disabilities in Common Non-Summative Assessments (#6)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO Synthesis Reports: Learning Progressions in K-8 Classrooms: How Progress Maps Can Influence Classroom Practice and Perceptions and Help Teachers Make More Informed Instructional Decisions in Support of Struggling Learners (#87)

Formats: Online , PDF

NCEO State Surveys: 2009 Survey of States - Accomplishments and New Issues at the End of a Decade of Change

Formats: Online , PDF