Using Technology in Formative Assessment

Formative assessment (Assessment for Learning) is the most important type of assessment we do in the classroom.  But we also know, often this type of assessment does not meet the standards it needs to in order to support student learning.

Hallmarks of strong formative assessments are:

1. High quality feedback that assesses the work, not the student.

2. Regular and descriptive feedback to students on how to improve.

3. It involves extensive self and peer assessment.

4. Teachers adjust their teaching based on the information gleaned from the assessment.

5. This type of assessment should not play much, if any role in determining the students final grade, because it is about the process of learning, not an assessment of learning.

6. Students should be assessed in a variety of ways: oral, written, and through performance assessments.

I was asked to create a workshop for staff on formative assessment, the purpose of this session was to build understanding of the practice of formative assessment and to give teachers strategies and ideas of how to increase the amount and types of formative assessment they use.  I went back to, as I often do…how can I link this to what we are trying to do at AES in terms of technology integration?  I have spoken about this before in a previous post, as AES  tries to purposefully link and connect technology integration to curricular outcomes through the work of both the curriculum and technology facilitators, so I started thinking perhaps the iPad is a good place to look for some applications to support formative assessment.  AES is currently piloting iPads throughout the school and the demand far outstrips the supply.  Clearly teachers see them as a relevant tool for learning and they (teachers) as well as students are excited to explore learning with the iPads.  I am always looking to get a lot out of what we do with technology and thought perhaps what teachers needed was a menu of sorts. A menu of technology tools they could use in order to facilitate formative assessment.

I created the document below as a menu of choices between iPad apps and Web 2.0 applications that can be used to employ types of formative assessments. It is organized to encourage a balanced approach to formative assessment so that teachers can easily see the various options they might have to encourage Write, Do, and Say in the classroom. Some of these tools can obviously be used in other categories as well.

If you like this and it might be useful in your work, you can find it here in PDF format. If you would like to modify it to meet your needs and programs available on an iPad, just email me and I will send it along in Word.

A few people deserve credit for brainstorming, design advice, troubleshooting, etc.  Dana Watts, Greg Clinton, and David Beaty were all very helpful in identifying real and relevant applications to assist teacher in creating more formative assessment opportunities for students. They were also invaluable in terms of troubleshooting and design suggestions.

I would like to point out that the organization of this document is critical to what we know about best practice in assessment.  If all you do is blog, are you giving all of your students the best chance to show what they have learned? We believe in differentiated assessments (well, at least I hope we do) and often students are given a variety of ways to demonstrate their understanding of learning. We need to give student the ability to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways formatively as well.


  1. Thanks for the great summary of iPad tools. I just got one and so am just getting up to speed on all they can do.

  2. There is so much they can do! Enjoy, play, apply! Have fun and thanks for the comment.

  3. This is a great resource on formative assessment for those integrating technology – will be sure to share the link! Thanks!

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