Sonoma County Office of Education

Technology for Learners

Distinguished Educator Offers Insights on the Role of Formative Assessment

Author: Rick Phelan
Published: 12.09.14

On December 4, SCOE was fortunate to host Margaret Heritage, an internationally recognized authority on formative assessment from UCLA’s Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. She presented ideas to help Sonoma County educators extend and enhance their assessment toolkits for 21st century teaching and learning with Common Core State Standards.

Heritage defined formative assessment as a planned process that takes place continuously during the course of teaching and learning to provide teachers and students with feedback that can close the gap between current learning and desired goals.

Here are a few of the key ideas Heritage shared:

  • Formative assessment shifts the conversation from what’s being taught to what’s being learned.
  • Feedback is the centerpiece of formative assessment.
  • Formative assessment involves students as active partners in learning outcomes.
  • Teachers make adjustments to their instruction based on evidence gained through formative assessment.

She also presented this graphic to help educators understand where formative assessment takes place in the process of student learning:

Assessment in the System

Margaret Heritage acknowledged the complexity of teaching in this new era. She believes that the Common Core Standards can provide deep learning for all students and that they are an essential part of preparing students for a competitive global economy. She challenged educators to “grow their practices” to meet the needs of 21st century learners.

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Blog: Technology for Learners