Formative Assessment

Defining Formative Assessment

The Council of State School Officers (CCSSO) defines formative assessment as a planned, ongoing process used by all students and teachers during learning and teaching to elicit and use evidence of student learning to improve student understanding of intended disciplinary learning outcomes and support students to become self-directed learners.

Effective use of the formative assessment process requires students and teachers to integrate and embed the following practices in a collaborative and respectful classroom environment:
  • Clarifying learning goals and success criteria within a broader progression of learning;
  • Eliciting and analyzing evidence of student thinking;
  • Engaging in self-assessment and peer feedback;
  • Providing actionable feedback; and 
  • Using evidence and feedback to move learning forward by adjusting learning strategies, goals, or next instructional steps

Summative vs. Formative

Summative assessment is often referred to as assessment of learning. These assessments measure how much students have learned up to a particular point in time (Stiggins, 2007). Summative assessment involves determining the quality of the learning that has taken place at the end of a unit or theme, term, semester, or school year. The data collected from summative assessments is primarily used by policy makers, program planners, and teachers. Examples of summative assessments include graded quizzes, mid-terms, final exams, and district or state tests. 

Formative assessment is referred to as assessment for learning. It is not an isolated event like a summative assessment. Formative assessment is a process that involves both teachers and students in ongoing dialogue, descriptive feedback, and reflection throughout instruction. Data collected during the formative assessment process is beneficial to both students and teachers because both share the responsibility of learning.

What We Do

Our office offers several professional learning pathways for beginning and sustaining work around the formative assessment process. We have also curated a collection of resources for educators and parents. The professional learning pathways and resources are beneficial for educators at all stages in their learning.  


Cecilia Roe
Director of Instructional Assessment, Professional Learning, Title IIA, & English/Language Arts
Office: (410) 767-0574

Jennifer Wojcik
Instructional Assessment Specialist
Office: (410) 767-0346