James Popham on Formative Assessment’s Moment in the Sun

James Popham on Formative Assessment’s Moment in the Sun

“Teachable moments are really quite special, and they don’t come along that often,” says assessment guru James Popham in this Education Week article. “A teacher who wastes a teachable moment, therefore, commits a pedagogical sin of omission.” Popham believes formative assessments are having an “advocatable moment” that educators should seize. 

Why is this such an important moment for high-quality checking for understanding and follow-up in classrooms? Because of two developments:

The advent of Common Core State Standards – These new grade-by-grade learning expectations won’t really be clear until the PARCC and Smarter Balanced assessments come online in the spring of 2015. “Only then will U.S. educators know with certainty how the common core has been operationalized,” says Popham, “and whether students have mastered the content.” Teachers should be refining their formative-assessment skills now so that, when the new generation of assessments arrives, they’ll be ready to continuously check the impact of their teaching during each school year.

Value-added teacher evaluations – As student achievement gains become a major factor in how teacher effectiveness is measured in many states, during-the-year checking for understanding becomes even more important. “Remember, formative assessment works,” says Popham. “When it is used, students learn better. By using this assessment-rooted instructional process, teachers can increase the test-based achievement of their students… ‘Student growth’ will be demonstrated on the tests because, in fact, student growth will have occurred.” 

“Formative Assessment’s ‘Advocatable Moment’” by James Popham in Education Week, Jan. 9, 2013 (Vol. 32, #15, p. 29), www.edweek.org 

From the Marshall Memo #468

 

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