How would you define Formative Assessment?
Formative assessment is collecting day to day information about student learning so that this "evidence is used to adapt teaching to meet student needs." We think the main emphasis is using the information, not just collecting it. For example, in one class a "mole assessment" was given. The results of this assessment caused the instructor to create a new set of learning materials to use with students to teach about the mole.

What was new or surprised us?
Not neccesarily either, we appreciate the article saying that this is not a magic bullet to fix all education nor will this be a quick solution. Time is needed to improve formative assessment and see the improvement in our students.

It is surprising that formative assessment helps low achieving students most, and serves to narrow the range of achievement.

At this point, our group will pause with our reflection to finish reading the article. We will add more to our reflection later.

ML - I don't know that this is surprising, any more, but I continue to be amazed to find old research that has not been heeded. I have been teaching for almost 19 years, and it is only in the last 3-4 years that I have been made aware of the body of research that clearly points to a better way to teach kids. My fear, as always, is that change will never come. We need to do more than the article suggests (see below).

What are the implications for our work within collaborative groups?
E.B.: I think that while collecting evidence from students as to how to guide learning, the main point is that if the students have not mastered a concept, you MUST re-teach. Which is something with which I struggle; for instance, in physics this year we are teaching much slower than previously. We have gotten some student/parent commentary on our new pace-- which is guided by formative assessment.
I was reading through some of the other groups and the comments seem to be that we need more examples about formative assessment. In physics, we use whiteboards in student pairs to answer questions, solve math problems, draw pictures, graph... The whiteboards are really useful in seeing what the students are thinking. It is also helpful to have the students hold them up and look at all the whiteboards. Then the students are asked to share what they think about other group's ideas. Yesterday, I learned that about half of my fifth hour doesn't understand a certain concept yet. That certainly tells me something about what to do in the future.

ML - The article advocates allowing teachers to slowly gain knowledge and expertise with formative assessment as a way to improve teaching and learning. I like the fact that the authors recognize that there are no quick fixes, but I'm afraid that history shows that the institutional inertia of schools needs a bigger shove if it is to change direction. Even though the authors don't specifically advocate for a change in the grading system, they do mention that it "sucks the life" out of schools by forcing teachers, parents and students to focus on grades. We need to have a school wide discussion about grades and grading, and work to change our grading system to assess what we truly value. This should come first, in my opinion. Formative assessment will develop and improve if we the grading system requires us to measure and report on how students are learning relative to our goals.

What additional information do you need with respect to formative assessments?