Sonoma County Office of Education

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a process used by teachers and students during instruction. It is different from other kinds of assessment because it doesn’t occur at the end of the learning process. Instead, it is integrated into instruction and takes place as ideas and concepts are developing within a lesson or unit. As such, it provides important feedback for both teachers and students.

Smarter Balanced Digital Library
The Digital Library is an online collection of resources offered through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Resources in the Digital Library are meant to support K-12 teachers developing and using formative assessment processes in their practice. Obtain access credentials to the Digital Library through your district's assessment coordinator.

Related Resources | Supporting Staff Discussions

SCOE has compiled several resources to support staff discussions about formative assessment, including an Activity Guide (pdf), Self-Study Survey (pdf), and video clips of teachers using formative assessment.

  • Video: Student Interviews | Math teachers across the grade levels question students about how to compute area. The clip shows how student understanding varies across the grades and how listening to students can help teachers adapt their instruction for improved learning.
  • Video: Questioning | This high school teacher ends her lesson by having students write a statement that synthesizes their thinking or poses a new question they have as a result of the lesson. In this example, students share verbally, but a teacher could also collect responses on exit cards.
  • Video: Verbal Exit Cards | In another variation of the Exit Card strategy, an elementary ELD teacher has each student say a sentence using targeted vocabulary before they leave class.
  • Video: Whiteboards | A middle school teacher uses whiteboards to check understanding as she moves through a lesson. She reviews key vocabulary when she sees that a substantial number of students are making errors.