Table of Contents

Unit 3: Learning From Students’ Work and Teachers’ Lessons

3.2 Assessment as Feedback for Students

Time to Read

As students develop their reading and writing skills through the grades, assessment and annotation tools can help teachers provide the timely and detailed feedback that students need to learn from and improve their writing.

Effective assessors know that to improve student learning, they have to do more than just measure students' performance. Timely and useful feedback has to accompany the assessment."

Tovani, 2011

The Importance of Formative Assessment

“Timely and useful feedback” is a crucial part of teachers’ use of formative assessment practices — assessment during the teaching and during the students’ writing process and research. In the Policy Research Brief, Fostering High-Quality Formative Assessment, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) stresses the importance of feedback and that the purpose of assessment is more than improving instruction.

What teachers learn from formative assessment can certainly help shape teaching decisions. Identifying areas where students are having difficulty as well as where they have clear understandings can lead teachers to change classroom practices in order to reach instructional goals…. However, changes in teaching and curriculum are not the central purpose of formative assessment. High-quality formative assessment always puts student learning at the center.

High-quality formative assessment takes many forms, but it always:

  • emphasizes the quality rather than the quantity of student work
  • prizes giving advice and guidance over giving grades
  • enables students to assess their own learning
  • fosters dialogues that explore understandings rather than lectures that present information
  • provides feedback that engenders motivation and leads to improvement

    NCTE, 2010