For students who've grown to believe that assessment is mainly a form of can we help them see that it can be for their learning? What are the benefits of students internalizing this from the beginning of the year?

@informed_members @Certified_Educators

Our last question from #formativechat this week focuses on a prevalent challenge in many classrooms and schools. Informed by past experiences, many students have come to believe that assessment is mainly a form of judgment. How can we “turn around the boat” and help students see that it can be useful for their learning? What are the benefits if they internalize this early on in the school year?

We’'d love to hear your thoughts!


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I do this in one of my courses by making their “quizzes” worth credit but they can earn an “upgrade” if they do poorly and go back to learn it. I want the assessments like this to be used in a self-regulation mode as well as teacher-monitored. I give a daily quiz through formative and the students get graded on it. But they also are able to come back in any time afterwards to remediate the topic and get that “upgrade”. Sometimes I just let them redo the quiz. Sometimes I just increase their grade. During the quiz, I walk around the room and give feedback to students verbally (and through text) so they can perform better.

I’ve surveyed students about this practice. Most students really like the method. They know that the quiz grades can be increased but they’re also able to track their own progress.


I use Formative (along with another site) for pretests and post-tests at the beginning and end of each unit. I compare student performance from the first to the second attempt in order to see growth, which generally occurs. Then, as a reward for learning, I will add points to their actual tests if there is improvement. Example: if the pretest was worth 22 points and Student A got a 6, then when the post-test occurred and Student A got a 17, which shows obvious improvement, then I will add three points to their test scores. This motivates the students and rewards them for paying attention in class!


Such a tricky thing. Because there are too many teachers where this is a fact - a reality that might not be changed. I have been retraining my students to not walk in fear of judgement but to embrace finding out what they do not know so they can learn it. Part of that only comes with building relationships and celebrating achievement and potential with students. Last year I started doing a student of the week recognition and giving them a swag bag to really celebrate. Pens, markers, sunglasses, cookies, notepads, stickers, tooth brush and paste - what ever I can pack into it.
I also have been trying to help my students understand that they can achieve any level of mastery they want. Do overs are acceptable. For me I don’t care about grades like that. I care about what they leave with forever, not just a grade. I count as little as our school grading system will allow for a formative assessment. I don’t feel like students should be punished for practice. After lots of practice the summative assessment counts for the culmination of learning. Even then I give them a chance to practice some more and retest or demonstrate.
Personally I have great test anxiety and also feel judgement. I know where my students are coming from so I try to empathize with them and work together to find a path for the highest success.


Interesting, do you build in explicit time for students to remediate topics or do they do so on their own and re-take the formatives in any environment (ex: at home)?

This is an interesting strategy! Does the post-test come after the test? How does it compare to the test and pre-test in terms of what is assessed?

If I see that a large percent of the class is struggling, then yes. If it’s only a couple of students, they are expected to come in on their own time to remediate.

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The post-test comes the day before the actual test. It is all the same information, but obviously no questions from the pretest/post-test are actually on the test. I use it as a review tool as well as a barometer for student understanding.

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Interesting! I’d love to hear more about how you are using the insights you are getting.

I use them primarily as a gauge of where students are prior to a test. Generally they do much better on the posttest as compared to the pretest, so it is a positive development. I may adjust test questions accordingly as well.

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Giving students more opportunities to see their growth is great! I also really like the idea of adjusting the questions based on how students respond.

We use them as preassessments at the beginning of the year, and students actually track their own scores and get to see their growth for themselves. This helps them to understand that it’s about knowing where they are, where they want to go, and how to meet those goals, rather than judgment.


Awesome, Valerie! It’s awesome that you use Formative to help students track their own growth. That’s such a great way to show them that assessment can be beneficial for them :slight_smile:

I don’t allow them to re-take immediately. They’ve got to apply themselves to learning what they struggled with during some tutoring and then I allow the retake with me before or after school. It usually doesn’t take very long if they actually did learn what they missed.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Where Do I Start

Amen to this. While I still have to often put in grades for formative assessments in my gradebook, these are fluid and littered with comments with pointers, resources, scheduled mini-conferences and reminders that students can rework/resubmit for full credit. Grades and assessments should not be “gotcha” moments.


I agree that accepting a true formative is meant to inform not to be graded is a paradigm shift for both students and many teachers.

I have set the tone by explaining the value of knowing if you know the concept. It connects to my beginning the year explaining that the students must take ownership of their own learning. This empowerment enables a partnership between them and I. I am establishing a goal for their success rather than an opportunity to play “I gotcha.”. It takes time, encouragement and support but eventually they get it.

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