​​​​​Instructional Assessment, Professional Learning, Title IIA

Formative Assessment Resources for Parents

What is Formative Assessment?

Also known as assessment for learning, formative assessment supports learning during the learning process. It Involves both teachers and students in ongoing dialogue, descriptive feedback, and reflection throughout instruction.

Grading vs. Feedback

In a classroom where students and teachers are actively engaged in the formative assessment process, you may notice a decrease in grades and an increase in feedback. This is because feedback is a critical component of the formative assessment process. It helps students understand where they are in the learning process, where they need to go, and how they will get there. "The primary goal of grading and reporting is communication... Grading and reporting certify attainment of learning goals, identify where additional work is needed, and provide a basis for improvement efforts" (Guskey & Marzano). Research has shown that students often experience grading as evaluation and judgment. If a paper is returned with both a grade and a comment, many students will pay attention to the grade and ignore the comment. To be most effective, feedback must be experienced as information and description. Feedback has a bigger impact when it is not accompanied by a grade.

What Can You Do at Home?

  • Shift from providing feedback on grades and rankings to reinforcing a growth mindset by encouraging your child to “practice, practice, practice” and learn from their mistakes.
  • Model descriptive feedback at home and ask your child to do the same.
  • Review feedback from the teacher or peers together and ask your child how they will use it moving forward.
  • Ask your child specific questions about learning goals, success criteria, and where they fall in the progression of learning. How will they move to the next level?  What are their goals?
  • Encourage your child to set specific, measurable goals for activities outside of school.


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