Assessment to Inform Instruction: Formative Assessment
Global Reading Network Critical Topics Resource
Assessment is the systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation and evaluation of information. In educational contexts, assessment is conducted to learn and interpret learning patterns and achievement levels of students, and typically includes testing, although other forms of assessment such as interview and observation are also important tools.
The goal in this paper is to provide an overview of assessment for learning, commonly called formative assessment. Among several different types of assessment, formative assessment most directly informs instructional practice. Conducted correctly, formative assessment is an essential element in effective primary grade reading instruction.
This paper begins with a review of key aspects about formative assessment relevant to literacy development, including types of formative assessment, their links to the instructional decision cycle, and requisite features of quality formative assessment. We then present specific guidance and information for successfully implementing formative assessment as part of effective literacy instruction.