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Assessment For Growth

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  1. Module 1 - Clearing The Path For Assessment For Growth
    5 Lessons
  2. Module 2: Formative assessment Techniques Your Classroom Needs
    5 Lessons
  3. Module 3: Standards Based Grading For Growth
    7 Lessons
  4. Module 4: Building Time for Assessment
    4 Lessons
  5. Module 5: How to Help Key Stakeholders with Assessment For Growth
    7 Lessons
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You’ll learn:

  • What’s the difference between formative and summative assessment and how it’s not just one is quiz and one is a unit test;

Make Math Moments Academy Forums Lesson 2: The True Purpose of Assessment – Discussion

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  • Clarissa Rothe

    December 10, 2019 at 3:53 am

    I am so glad for this lesson. It is something that I will need to think about when I revisit my own past practices and revamp most of my so-called assessments. Thank you so much!!!

    • Jon

      December 10, 2019 at 3:53 am

      HI @clarissarothe , so glad this lesson hit home for you.

  • Xianwei Van Harpen

    December 10, 2019 at 3:53 am

    I have heard of these ideas before but did not integrate them in my teaching. I am pumped to do that starting next semester!

  • Cathie O'Malley

    December 19, 2019 at 9:14 am

    Formative assessment is not an instrument it is a process. I love that statement. For me it help to summarize what it is and what it isn’t

  • Mary Ali

    January 30, 2020 at 8:52 am

    So here the thing, this year i have been working on mind growth set but we just had exams and the students fell into the Bell Curve and are crushed.  I feel like I failed.  For a short period of time, I had students leaning in and working on the math but they were not able to perform on the January exam.  Now I have a lot of students wondering what happened? I too am wondering.  I give formative assessments but need to do better at improving my instructions to help those who struggled.  It seems we are always moving ahead in order to cover the outcomes. I still feel like my am sorting students for grade 10.  I realize that students already came with gaps in their math but I find it frustrating that I am not as far along as I had hoped.  

  • Lori Noyes

    March 17, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    I appreciate the distinction that formative assessments should be assessments FOR learning. My struggle has been how to incorporate this into 20 minute rotations without losing instructional and practice time with my students. Looking forward to learning more!

    I completely understand Mary Ali’s frustration with also trying to foster growth mindset…my third graders already get so discouraged if they don’t get things correct the first time. I need to know how to assess FOR learning and help students appreciate the growth they are making.

    • Kyle Pearce

      March 17, 2020 at 7:41 pm

      These are definitely difficult challenges that we are all working through.

      When you say 20 minute rotations, is this a centre rotation schedule? Can you tell us more about this?


  • Pat Morris

    March 21, 2020 at 1:51 pm

    As the educator, I know that most of my assessments are formative, however even the smallest exit ticket has students (grade 6) feeling anxious because they think that everything we do is “for marks”. I use Jo Boaler’s 7 Positive norms, and am constantly pointing them out as they are on the wall in front of the students, but still, they show anxiety when it comes to math. Math anxiety is a real hurdle in many classrooms, and despite my multiple strategies, it’s still an issue in my room. What I’m trying to say is, how do I help students understand that their grade isn’t the important part of the math course that I teach.

  • Kyle Kline

    March 21, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    One of my biggest takeaways is that standardized assessments should be used to improve instruction, and not to grade a student or label them as proficient or not proficient. I think that as teachers, sometimes we look at the results and don’t use that data to inform our next steps, especially in math. Too many times we decide to continue on with our next lesson without taking time to help those that did not understand the original content.

  • Michelle Reichel

    March 23, 2020 at 8:36 am

    I loved the reminder that formative assessment is a process. So often school systems what to report on the progress. I really wish report cards could also reflect this process rather than it being the “end.”

  • Tiffany Roddy

    March 27, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    The true purpose of formative assessment is aiding instruction. Using this information properly is essential in improving learning.

    I still wonder how to get parents on board with a new way of grading like standards-based. Many of the parents I work with are only interested in a numerical grade.

  • Holly stop

    April 9, 2020 at 11:46 am

    This lesson didn’t really touch on summative assessments. Do you have formative and summative assessments, or is just about everything categorized as formative except the final mark?

  • Dianne Brodie

    April 17, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    My takeaway is the shift in thinking when we look as formative assessment as a process, rather than a tool or an event.

  • Amy Kopcznski

    April 21, 2020 at 3:52 pm

    I love the definition you provided for formative assessments being “any strategy, tool, and process” for helping us learn how to better help our students grow. Some of the most heated debates I have witnessed between teachers over the years has been about the difference between formative and summative assessments. This really helped cement that difference for me.

    My biggest question at the moment is how can all of this be successfully organized and structured in classrooms?

  • Sunni Burns

    May 8, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    I love the new terminology or formative assessment as a process. I think a lot of teachers do it more than they think. Warm ups , questioning strategies, even having students work on a problem on white boards are formative assesments. I am interested on more detail about how we can incorporate these into our grades without killing ourselves with work in a way that is fair and can be justified to parents and students.

  • Tania Ash

    May 15, 2020 at 5:44 am

    The redefining of formative assessment as a process rather than as a tool is a key idea, I think. There’s formative assessment built into a lot of what we do – even when we sit next to kids and have them take us through how they’re thinking about a problem. My struggle tends to be with documentation. I tend to keep a lot of those conversations in my head. I’ve tried sticky notes and notebooks, but I only end up looking back on them much later, when it’s too late. I use the “stuff in my head” to generally guide next steps (do we proceed? do we spend more time?), which, I know, is definitely not the way to go. I do document any written assessments (like checkpoints) on a standards-based system, but it’s the other parts I’m not doing well on.

  • Maria Carmela Sanchez

    June 3, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    This lesson has broadened my understanding of formative assessment.i had learnt in the past years’ hat formative assessment is a process and continuous and It should help in the learning process of students. The missing part of the assessment is the “how”. This course is exciting.

  • Kyle Pearce

    June 3, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    Great reflections here, friends!
    A big take away I’m hearing from @maria-carmela-sanchez-magallanes @tania-ash @sunni-burns and many others along this thread is the idea of formative assessment as a process. As Maria was mentioning, the hardest part is the “how”. Like so many other aspects of effective mathematics instruction, I think it is both a science and an art which means it takes a LOT of planning, thinking, and refining as you go.
    Let’s work together here to try to make this a reality!

  • Daniel Whittaker

    July 13, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    I definitely have used the concept of formative assessments for grades. Often admin pressures us to put a certain number of grades in the book per week. I want to use things as formative assessments are intended, but often fall back on old practices. This is especially hard with shared courses that are supposed to follow the same practices regardless of the teacher so that a grade means the same thing regardless of the teacher.

    Basically to me this sounds like most formative assessments may not even be written down. I do a lot of formative assessments by having all students working on the whiteboard to solve questions for the current topic, I’m able to watch 16 students working the same problem at the same time and then adjust the learning based on their progress, it is a beautiful thing, I just haven’t really thought of it as a formative assessment before.

  • Jaana Gray

    November 1, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    This is so true. The point of assessment must be to lead our teaching so that we can maximise learning.

    • Jon

      November 5, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      So glad you see this takeaway as well!

  • Renee Trad

    November 19, 2020 at 11:26 am

    I used to do quizzes the same way that Jon described and now look at them as what can I do differently to reach the few or many students that didn’t get the math topic.

  • Kimberly Bunch

    December 18, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Assessment vs Evaluation and the idea of Formative Assessment as a process. We say we use common formative assessments, but if we don’t do anything with the results (provided actionable feedback to students), it really is more of an evaluation tool.

    • Kyle Pearce

      December 19, 2020 at 6:51 am

      So true! I often wonder why we do so much “assessment” and grading if it isn’t to inform instruction and push student thinking forward?

  • Salam Lotfi

    December 22, 2020 at 5:20 am

    We have to rethink about assessment and shift our priorities towards our students ‘learning.

    The common misconception: formative=quiz & summative=test.

    I need to learn more about different strategies for each

    • Jon

      December 22, 2020 at 5:59 am

      I’m glad you’re in this journey with us. This course outlines strategies foe each! Keep learning.

  • Jason Pelletier

    January 7, 2021 at 3:03 pm

    I get frustrated when we sit around looking at assessment results and data pass the time of learning and not during the learning process. In addition, we do not use the data to form or adapt our teaching to help the students in their process of learning math concepts. The pass few years I have been using assessments for learning more than I ever have and it has been useful. I guess a few things that come to mind and that I am wondering about it how to use those assessments for learning to mold your teaching practices. What if one assessment revealed 50% of the class has mastered the concepts but the other half are struggling? When do you know to move to the next concept without leaving students behind or remaining on the same concept and possibly boring the other students that have mastered the concept.

    • Jon

      January 8, 2021 at 6:12 am

      Great questions here @j.pelletier . Module 2 will reveal some good insight here.

  • Chris Lin

    February 16, 2021 at 11:28 am

    The idea that formative assessments were more about the tools resonated with me. I know if I asked my staff about formative assessments, they would say we give quizzes or exit tickets. But if there is no feedback loop to improve learning then…

    I wonder what kind of structures we need to put in place to ensure we close that feedback loop and just don’t keep giving quizzes and expecting kids to change behavior if they’re grades on quizzes isn’t good.

    • Kyle Pearce

      February 18, 2021 at 7:39 am

      It certainly is a big mindset change for many (including us when we began this journey).

      I wonder if maybe starting with learning goals might be a place to begin the discussion? When we look at our “grades” do we really know what students know understand and can do specifically? If not, maybe that could be a start?

  • Lara Donsky

    March 8, 2021 at 10:39 am

    For years we have been using EQAO data to try and inform out teaching – wasting time

    We should have been using that time to talk to teachers about using just in time assessment to support students’ mathematical growth. How to create these assessments – what to look for – how to use the just in time data and information to continue to not only improve student learning, but to improve teachers’ observation abilities as well.

    • Jon

      March 10, 2021 at 6:13 am

      So true @laradonsky . While EQAO can provide us with summative assessment data which in turn can help the next batch of students (if we use the data to help us modify) we could spend more time learning strategies that help the students we have. That effort will compound!

    • John Gaspari

      March 20, 2021 at 10:38 pm

      I agree with you Lara, EQAO was a big time waster. This year will be the second year without the EQAO test and no time spent prepping for the test. It never served a purpose in formative assessment. I was tired of finishing a unit/chapter (silo) of study and then giving students practice EQAO questions, only to model the different levels of how to answer the questions. Grade 6 is an awesome curriculum to teach but EQAO at the end of the year puts a real damper on it.

  • Carol Butel

    March 9, 2021 at 8:22 pm

    Great to get clarity on summative versus formative and that formative must be while the learning is happening. So many hours seems to be spent by schools entering data about students onto school management systems but no teaching rolls out of that so its such wasted effort.

    • Jon

      March 10, 2021 at 6:10 am

      Exactly @carol-butel . Gathering data is important..but we need to USE IT to help students with their thinking and understanding.

  • Christopher Ernst

    March 25, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Great info on the difference between formative and summative assessment. I’m left with the question of how to incorporate this into the grade book? Should I give a student a grade on a formative assessment that helped me learn about their learning? Further, can I/how do I give a student a grade from a conversation we had about their learning? That seems disingenuous to the student and almost a “gotcha”. I’m sure these will be answered in the future.

    Another lingering question is how can I make sure students use the data/feedback from formative assessments?

  • Maryanna Biedermann

    May 27, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    It’s clear that many of us, as mathematics teachers, agree that assessment for student growth is most beneficial for students but simultaneously, feel pressured by peers, administrators and parents who are unfamiliar with this concept or simply disagree entirely. I want to integrate teaching with math tasks, guided math and assessment for learning connected to standards and struggle with the prioritizing of what to do first. Looking forward to each lessons’ opportunities.

    • Jon

      May 28, 2021 at 6:28 am

      @maryanna-biedermann What we’ve learned is that having comfort with the decisions you make about your program gives you confidence to address all stakeholders who are curious to why a “change” has happened. If we can speak with confidence then our experience says those “disgree-ers” will fall away.

      Our experience also tells us that it probably doesn’t matter where you start, but that you START. The pieces will align after that.

      • Maryanna Biedermann

        May 28, 2021 at 2:52 pm

        Thanks for that reply…just start is good advice…do the doing….

  • John Thompson

    May 28, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    I need to make sure that any form of assessment that I do is then used to inform myself and the student on how to go forward. Not all quizes need grades if they are truly formative assessment. I hope to learn more about other forms of assessment and how to integrate them into my class.

  • Bailey Mortensen

    June 2, 2021 at 9:39 am

    I wonder how I can improve the culture in my class to be about learning and growth and not about grades.

  • Jennifer Gordon

    June 7, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    I have been using homework, quizzes, and tests really all in the same way, which is to evaluate and categorize students, not help inform them or aid in their learning. I know my reliance on these archaic grading practices stem in part to how I was taught but also in my own self doubt and lack of self efficacy. I’m wondering if I’m going to be able to recognize when students are truly understanding the math concepts I’m teaching.

    • Jon

      June 8, 2021 at 7:10 am

      Good reflections and wonders here. With experience you’ll know a student has grasped a concept when you see/hear it.

    • Kyle Pearce

      June 8, 2021 at 7:20 am

      Don’t sweat it. We have all been there and it is a transition that takes a lot of time and reflection.

      What does a lesson currently look like / sound like for you?

      The reason I ask is because problem based lessons are the key to being able to understand who is where and what you might do next. If it is a more teacher led, gradual release lesson, then you’re doing the talking and you’re unable to see/hear where students are at in the moment.

  • Anthony Waslaske

    June 15, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    I think the way I used assessment answered the question, “what is easiest for me as a teacher” rather than what is best for the student. I would give a short quiz and use the assessment as a gauge before a summative test but not as part of a continuous assessment where I am also adjusting instruction based on such assessment. Very much teaching at the kids and hoping they get it.

    • Kyle Pearce

      June 16, 2021 at 6:44 am

      You’re not alone. I’d say that is a pretty common practice. We experienced it as students and thus most of us spent a good chunk of our careers perpetuating that practice. The secret sauce is finding a means to use assessment data to inform instruction on a regular basis without adding 10x the work/effort. That will take time, but you will find a means for you that is manageable and impactful!

  • Pamela Brock

    July 15, 2021 at 9:45 am

    I so appreciate the emphasis on “FOR” learning, thank you!

    I feel like there is a marriage of ideas coming together: the problem-based approach, the notice and wonder, and the tracking of student growth and progress. Since the pandemic left our students virtual on Wednesday’s throughout the year, I’d like to find a way to take that day (this coming year) and use it as a growing/getting better day…I’m curious about the portfolios and how to incorporate spiral review – especially for my low students who seem to always need time to catch up.

  • Jamie BALLARD

    July 21, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Big takeaway: Formative is Frequent as A4L is continuous. I like this picture as it shifts the mind to quit thinking discretely about gathering information from student for learning. We gather information all the time! This is why remote learning was more difficult – as least for me. It was harder to get those candid/side conversations with students to figure out where they were in the learning process.

    I am still wondering how to record this information. I have read The Thinking Classroom and Peter’s method, but I am not 100% on board with it. Moreover, my PLC is not either and we don’t have enough time to debate it before next year.

    • Jon

      July 23, 2021 at 8:55 am

      In upcoming modules in this course we go over recording and tools!

  • Leslie Stevens

    July 30, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    Formative vs. Summative was always confusing to me, since I always tried to use the data to inform my instruction… but I like the way you focus this back on the student. In order to be formative (and useful) it needs to be FOR STUDENT learning and student growth. I’m excited to dive into this deeper.

  • Suzie Lowe

    August 1, 2021 at 10:21 am

    Biggest take-away: That when I was giving back my assessments for the kids to try over again, it wasn’t necessarily helping but actually hurting.

    Knowledgehook looks WAY better than Kahoot. I definitely have not been a fan of Kahoot as this seems like a more relaxed way to obtain assessments.

    Wonder: How do the conversations look like and sound like when you are re-addressing a student’s struggles? What are some examples of assessment that is feedback only?

  • Jeanette Jones

    August 3, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    I am excited to use formative assessments to help me help the students. This makes so much more sense than using it to give them a grade!

  • Traci

    August 31, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    I have to agree with most of the other posts. Changing the thinking of Formative Assessment to make it FOR learning and not just a mark.

    I am wondering how to incorporate this way of assessment into the marking system that is required in my district. I am also wondering and excited to explore the growth days that are being referred to.

    I am looking forward to continuing learning in the course.

    • Jon

      September 1, 2021 at 6:53 am

      @neodesha.usd 461 We’re excited for you to keep exploring the course!

  • Alyse Olivieri

    September 3, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    Biggest take away is that Formative Assessment is assessment for learning and needs to be timely. Assessment is to help students learn math at a greater depth and to value growth.

  • Callie Smith

    September 5, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    Always feel sufficiently convicted when I take your courses and listen to your podcasts! I still use these archaic ways almost to show parents/ admin that things are happening in my class. Somewhere in the back of my mind is the thought that there must be more to this. I feel like Jon was recounting my training on formative and summative assessments. However, I feel slightly redeemed in the fact that I encourage redos on just about everything and strongly suggest conversations with me to iron out misconceptions and errors.

    I’m wondering how to use assessment in ways that are less damaging, admin-pleasing, parent-pleasing, student-growing…? I have a small class load and small classes, at that. So this is a great year to try to try new things and experiment.

  • AJ Ellison

    November 7, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    Formative assessment is difficult for me and in the past managing the data has been difficult. Our district has so many standards packed into a 9 month school year that when I ran my class as a traditional math class, it was difficult to find the time to spiral back with my formative data to readdress any misconceptions or problem areas. This would have me relying on quizzes and tests for my data and ultimately being disappointed when students didn’t achieve the way I felt they should have and then me trying to patch holes while I taught the next concept that relied on the concept before. It was a wicked spiral of student and teacher frustration.

    I have recently been focusing on turning my class into a thinking classroom and I have found that this has helped my formative process tremendously. I am able to conference with students in real time and spot the misconceptions in real time. This allows me to reteach in small groups or during our consolidation in a way that matches the needs of the students more precisely. There are less holes and much more productive lessons happening now. I wish it hadn’t taken me 22 years to get to this point but, better late than never I guess!

  • Virginia Hagman

    November 8, 2021 at 9:38 pm

    My big takeaway from this lesson is that many do not utilize the formative assessment to evaluate the path the teaching will take. The formative assessment can tell us what the students continue to need understanding on and who needs further instruction. We need to provide students with information on what areas in which they are growing and we need to utilize the formative assessment to learn about our student’s thinking and how we can improve student learning.

    One thing I am still wondering is how I better utilize formative assessment to inform my instruction and benefit my students while still remaining on track with the course map expectations set forth by my district.

    • Kyle Pearce

      November 9, 2021 at 6:43 am

      This is a great question and one that should probably come up in PLCs or other staff discussions. How helpful is a curriculum map if only some of your students are benefitting?

  • Sandhya Raman

    January 17, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    A big takeaway for me from this lesson is the elaborate way in which you explained formative versus summative….and then deliberated on Assessments FOR learning. I love that formative assessment are timely, but assessments for learning are continuous.

  • Reina Turner

    February 28, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    My big take away is all the stress that causes not only our students but us as well in assessing and labeling who mastered and needs to improve. Kids should not be assess so many times throughout year with summative test. I seen that mini assessments say more than all that together. Things should get better but it just gets more stressful. It all sounds good, I want to hear more.

  • Jeremy Sarzana

    March 11, 2022 at 6:29 pm


    My big takeaway is the idea of assessment for learning. Assessment should be about student growth and it should aid the teacher in facilitating that growth. I’m wondering how best to implement this.

  • Dawn Stout

    April 2, 2022 at 9:24 am

    This reaffirmed my beliefs. Now, how to get others in my district on board!


    April 25, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    Love the idea of assessment for learning! It is about growth and progress. Can’t wait to hear more about how to do this without a paper/pencil test.

  • Jacqueline Joseph

    May 28, 2022 at 2:25 pm

    My biggest takeaway was the realization that I have to be just as intentional in planning how to respond to data gathered in assessing for learning as I am in the original instruction. I am wondering about how to do this when the sheer numbers of standards and the district I work in requires common summative assessments within a certain time frame.

  • Philip Pittelli

    May 31, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    I never felt like unit tests gave a good measure of how a student was doing. I have noticed over the years that tests, (“show me what you know”) just cause more anxiety in the students. I definitely have seen more of what a student knows but the daily grind and talking to them about the math. I would like to get more ideas on how I can assess students so that it helps me get to know what they truly know better. When do yo move on from a topic?

  • Terry Hill

    June 9, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    I am looking forward to attempting to use this type of assessment in the fall. I do have to figure out a way to do so that will still meet the districts criteria for number of daily grades and number of test grades for each nine weeks, but I am hoping that will be something I will learn in the upcoming lessons.

    • Kyle Pearce

      June 10, 2022 at 6:52 am

      I’m sure that this can be done to still follow those guidelines!

  • Stephen Weller

    June 19, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Formative assessments should help the learner in their learning process, giving them feedback and also giving the teacher information.

    “Assessment for learning” does help me to see this meaning more clearly.

    I plan on checking out the works referenced in this lesson.

    Personally my formative assessment practices are stale and I’m excited about reworking them with these purposes at the center.

    • Jon

      June 20, 2022 at 6:32 am

      We’re excited you’re taking this journey with us!

  • Anne Guerriero

    June 22, 2022 at 6:35 pm

    My big takeaway, like so many others, is how to close the feedback loop so that students are using the feedback they receive to improve, rather than just endlessly retaking an assessment? I feel like I need to improve the frequency and substance of communications to parents and students in order to help them understand better.

    • Kyle Pearce

      June 23, 2022 at 6:35 am

      Setting some guidelines can be helpful here. You don’t want to create barriers where students feel it isn’t worth it to try, but you also don’t want to endlessly offer retakes with little to no real improvement showing either.

  • Stephanie Pritchett

    June 30, 2022 at 6:37 pm

    Formative assessments are about the learner and the learning and how to help improve both.

  • Courtney Mays

    July 17, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    This. This is our biggest problem in my department. Our teachers do not use assessments to help students. Instead, they are used for grades. There are not alterations, no alternate instructional methods…

    But I wonder, how do I get my department members to understand this?

  • Meredith McGuinnes

    June 4, 2023 at 1:28 pm

    I am aligned with the statement that we need to focus on student growth, and not use assessment as a sorting tool. Thank you for stating the true intentions of formative assessment so clearly.

  • Jeannette Milburn

    June 10, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    Assessments should be about growth not just a number.

  • Lauren Crotty

    November 12, 2023 at 9:16 pm

    Formative assessment is a process!

  • Marie-Pier Dandurand

    January 20, 2024 at 4:46 pm

    Assessment needs to be an ongoing process, that supports and help students not only to learn, but also to progress in his learning.

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