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Formative Assessment and Tools for Teachers FAQs


Formative Assessment

  1. What is formative assessment?

    Formative assessment is a deliberate process used by teachers with students during instruction that provides actionable feedback that is used to adjust teaching and learning strategies to improve students’ attainment of learning targets and goals. Formative assessment is a process, not a test.

  2. What are the components of the formative assessment process?

    The components, or attributes, are: (1) clarify intended learning; (2) elicit evidence; (3) interpret evidence; and (4) act on evidence.

  3. What role does the formative assessment process play in the Smarter Balanced assessment system?
    The formative assessment process is used to gauge learning. When educators use the formative assessment process, they can achieve a clear understanding of where their students are in the learning progression. Using assessment for learning benefits the assessment of all students’ learning. Formative assessment, therefore, is a tool that supports the Smarter Balanced goal of providing instructional strategies that support the achievement results of the summative and interim assessments.

Tools for Teachers

  1. What is Tools for Teachers?

    Tools for Teachers is the formative assessment component of the Smarter Balanced assessment system. It is an online collection of resources aligned with the Common Core State Standards that supports K–12 teachers in their use of the formative assessment process to adjust teaching to improve student learning. Tools for Teachers features:

    • Formative assessment and accessibility strategies embedded in every instructional resource
    • Responsive, accessible instructional resources aligned with learning and accessibility standards
    • Interactive Connections Playlists of resources linked to interim assessments
  2. How does Tools for Teachers support formative assessment and the Smarter Balanced assessment system?

    Every resource available in Tools for Teachers incorporates all the attributes of the formative assessment process. Using the formative assessment resources in Tools for Teachers, educators can improve their students’understanding of grade level content standards, on which the Smarter Balanced assessments are based.

  3. What resources are included in Tools for Teachers?

    Resources in Tools for Teachers include professional learning resources, instructional resources, formative assessment strategies, accessibility strategies, and Connections Playlists of instructional resources that focus on interim assessment content. The resources in Tools for Teachers are carefully composed with teams of educators from throughout the Smarter Balanced consortium with a focus on the formative assessment process and content learning standards. Tools for Teachers is not a site to freely post resources.

  4. Who may contribute to Tools for Teachers?

    Resources in Tools for Teachers are either commissioned by Smarter Balanced or contributed by trained educators from Smarter Balanced member states who are members of the State Network of Educators (SNE).

  5. How are resources identified for inclusion in Tools for Teachers?

    Members of the State Network of Educators (SNE) use quality criteria to vet proposed resources for Tools for Teachers. The resources undergo multiple collaborative reviews to ensure they meet the quality criteria, include alignment with the CCSS, and incorporate formative assessment practices.

  6. Who are authorized users of Tools for Teachers?

    All local educational agency (LEA) staff members are considered authorized users of Tools for Teachers. LEA staff members with an e-mail address from an authorized LEA domain can self-register for Tools for Teachers. LEA staff members without an authorized e-mail domain may contact their LEA CAASPP coordinator to request an account.

  7. Which non-public school (NPS) staff members are permitted to have access to the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessments and Tools for Teachers?

    Eligible NPS staff are educators at the NPS, whether in-state or out-of-state, who provide direct instruction to California public school students. Access to the interim assessments and Tools for Teachers must be restricted to eligible staff. LEA CAASPP coordinators are responsible for ensuring access is restricted to eligible NPS staff.

Questions:   California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress | caaspp@cde.ca.gov | 916-445-8765
Last Reviewed: Thursday, July 30, 2020
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