How does the formative assessment process support ambitious teaching, and vice versa?

Assessment Learning Network, March 10, 2022

The theme for the 2021-22 Assessment Learning Network is leveraging assessment to achieve equitable access and outcomes for all students through an emphasis on assessment practices most relevant to students’ efforts to increase their own learning.

Today, education requires students to think for themselves—critically, creatively, and metacognitively. Teaching that focuses solely on presenting information for students to passively acquire, a transmission model, is no longer fit for purpose. Instead, ambitious teaching that involves students as active participants in rich and authentic tasks, in disciplinary discourse practices, and in becoming agents in their own learning is essential to achieving contemporary educational goals. 

Assessment, too, must play a part supporting ambitious teaching, in particular the process of formative assessment, which is concerned with the here and now of teaching and learning. Formative assessment is characterized by a shared understanding of learning goals, eliciting students’ thinking as they are engaged in learning, and taking action to keep learning moving forward.  

In this session, we will explore the reciprocal relationship of ambitious teaching and the formative assessment process, and how each one supports the other to achieve valued educational goals for all students.  

Framing Questions 

  1. How can ambitious teaching and integrated formative assessment support every student to reach valued educational goals? 
  2. How does ambitious teaching and the formative assessment process support students to become agents in their own learning? 
  3. How can teachers be assisted to develop and deepen their knowledge and skills to implement ambitious teaching and formative assessment to benefit all students’ learning? 
Event Resources

Presentation Video

ALN Presentation: How does the formative assessment process support ambitious teaching, and vice versa?

Presenter: Margaret Heritage

Margaret Heritage is an independent consultant in education. For her entire career, her work has spanned both research and practice. In addition to spending many years in her native England as a practitioner, a university lecturer, and an inspector of schools, she had an extensive period at UCLA, first as principal of the laboratory school of the Graduate School of Education and Information Students and then as an Assistant Director at the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing. She also served as Senior Scientist at WestEd. Her current work centers on formative assessment, including how formative assessment supports regulatory processes and contributes to educational equity goals. Her most recent books include Self-regulation: The role of language and formative assessment (Harvard Education Press), and Progressing students’ language day by day (Corwin) with Alison Bailey.

Presenter: E. Caroline Wylie

Dr. Caroline Wylie is a Principal Research Scientist/Research Director in the K-12 Learning Teaching and Assessment Center at ETS. She completed her postgraduate certificate in teaching high school mathematics, and a doctorate in educational assessment, from Queen’s University, Belfast.  Her current research centers on issues around balanced assessment systems, with a focus on the use of formative assessment to improve classroom teaching and learning. She has led studies related to the creation of effective, scaleable and sustainable teacher professional development, focused on formative assessment, on the formative use of diagnostic questions for classroom-based assessment, assessment literacy and on the role of learning progressions to support formative assessment in mathematics and science. Currently she is the research lead for the K-12 Winsight™ Assessment System at ETS and led the development of a series of assessment literacy module for teachers.

Learning Moments

LM-Heritage-Wylie: How ambitious teaching and formative assessment support every student
LM-Heritage-Wylie-Supporting students to become agents in their own learning
LM-Heritage-Wylie-How to support teachers in their ambitious teaching and formative assessment

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