Using Homework as a Formative Assessment (Part 1)

Table 1. Kinds of Formative AssessmentsWe formally launched Edulastic today, and we couldn’t be happier. The inspiration for our K-12 platform started off with a question: How do we help education work better, every day, for teachers and students? We’ll cut to the chase and share some of the answers.

We believe short-cycle formative assessments; student and teacher question authoring; and using homework as a space for students to practice mastery of the Common Core will improve student learning outcomes.

Edulastic is free for teachers and classrooms. Teachers can craft standards-aligned content from interactive question items outlined by PARCC and Smarter Balanced, or use evaluated content curated by other teachers.  

What Works in Education?

Our philosophy is simple: Learning is a continuous process, so assessments need to be continuous as well. Rather than only evaluating student mastery with summative tests, teachers can craft assessments and assign them as practice for Common Core standards.

Grant Wiggins, founder of Authentic Education, defines formative assessments in “Using Homework as a Formative Assessment“:

I would define ‘formative’ assessment as ‘useful feedback with an opportunity to use that feedback’ to perform optimally on later summative assessments…Formative assessments provide feedback – for students first, then teachers; that’s their purpose.”

Researchers from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, in What Does Research Say the Benefits of Formative Assessment Are?, came to the following conclusion:

“Sustained professional development focused on minute-by-minute and day-by-day formative assessment can improve students’ engagement, enrich the the daily experience of educators, and produce substantial increases in students’ achievements.”  

Fig. 2. Aspects of assessment for learning

It’s noted in the 2007 NCTM research that there was no “magic bullet” for carrying out this level of formative assessments.

That’s where homework comes in. Grant Wiggins has reservations for using homework for formative assessments unless they truly “give kids more options for showing what they know and can do.” Overall, kids need more opportunities to practice course concepts while receiving personalized feedback and daily differentiated instruction.  

The Common Core PLUS More

Edulastic provides 40+ interactive question types, and thousands of standards-aligned questions crafted by other teachers. Yet the platform can be used by any teacher—in any subject—to turn homework into a formative assessment. 

Teachers can craft assessments centered on the standards—or present any course concept they’re requiring students to master.

 

Tech Enhanced Question Types

 

*Below is a detailed example of a skill report covering the Common Core State Standards.

Instructor-CCSS-Class Report

 

Meaningful Homework & Student Learning Spaces

There are still open debates about whether or not formative assessments can be graded.

We provide teachers with the opportunity to have their assessments graded, or simply used as a supplemental learning space for students that’s brimming with real-time insights for timely feedback, remediation, and Response to Intervention (RTI).  

“We’ve placed an emphasis on making it easy for teachers to create, share and adopt proven assessment strategies,” says Madhu Narasa, CEO of Edulastic. “We want to accelerate student learning—and help relieve stress associated with assessments and the Common Core implementation process—while delivering timely and useful information for students, educators, parents, and policymakers.”

In Part 2 we will cover a wide range of formative assessment examples (and talk more about Edulastic’s process and features) while discussing formative assessment experts like David Wees

Sign up for Edulastic's formative platform and start crafting assessments.

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