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From Formative Assessment to Informative Assessing in the Math Classroom

One of the routes to deeper student math learning and a healthy learning mindset is using an “in the moment” informative assessment process rather than “rear-view mirror” summative assessment testing data to inform teaching and learning. Increasingly, experts, researchers, and even new legislation support the use of ongoing, rigorous formative assessment to engage students and provide insights into student thinking so teachers know how to adjust lessons based on learner thinking and performance, and to teach to mathematics standards.

“The most powerful single modification [in formative assessment] that enhances achievement is feedback. The simplest prescription for improving education must be dollops of feedback.”

— John Hattie, Ed.D., author of Visible Learning

In this research paper by Dr. Gregory Firn you’ll learn:

What is Formative Assessment and Informative Assessing?

One way to think about transforming formative assessment to informative assessing is to think of it as akin to a wellness lifestyle: preventing health problems before they occur. In the same way, assessment should serve to prevent intervention, not merely react to instruction. Ideally, assessment is ongoing and occurs during the learning process so that it is unnecessary to wait until a student has failed to treat a problem. This process informs both teacher and learner.

How does Next-Generation Software Enable Advanced Math Formative Assessment?

The use of intelligent mathematics software enables embedded, ongoing formative assessment and seamless instructional shifts while students are immersed in a game-like environment. This advancement in digital learning software is a boon for teachers and students alike, enabling the ability to use data to co-create, co-author, and collaborate instruction while promoting student agency. Now there is no need to wait until a student has failed to intervene and correct the situation.

What are the Benefits of Advanced Math Formative Assessment in the Classroom?

Read the case study

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has long supported the use of formative assessment in classroom practice, and confirms the many reports showing that it directly correlates with improvements and student achievement. Research shows that shifting from formative assessment to improved informative assessing practices in classrooms typically yield gains in student achievement roughly equivalent to one to two grade levels in learning.

At the top of the list of these improvements, which are cost-effectively implemented with Blended Learning, is ongoing feedback. Another benefit of informative assessing is personalized learning that challenges both struggling students and those working at grade level or higher.

This research-based report includes tips for creating a supportive culture for informative assessing in your school, a guide to support implementation of assessment culture for administrators, and much more.

About the Author: Dr. Gregory Firn

Superintendent in Residence, DreamBox Learning

Gregory Firn

Dr. Gregory Firn served as Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, and in several other educational leadership roles in Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington state, Nevada, and overseas. Grounded in the school effects research, Dr. Firn’s leadership resulted in school system improvement as measured by student achievement and performance results, increased parent, community, and school engagement, increased graduation rates and decreased student suspensions. A pioneer in digital conversion, he twice led system-wide digital transformation initiatives, including the design and implementation of robust human capital development programs. Dr. Firn earned his doctorate from Seattle Pacific University, where his research focused on learner-centered education.