Formative Assessment Is Not for Grading is a great article from NWEA that emphasizes the point that Formative Assessment is practice, not the end of the journey - we are still on that journey. Therefore, it is essential for us as educators to design authentic assessments that don’t lend them to grading but instead reveals the students thought process. IMHO we need to utilize the utmost confidence that every student can improve. It should be driven by the concept of metacognition, meaning “thinking about thinking”. Assessment for learning should enable reciprocal learning where teachers and students share and value each other’s sense-making processes, and learn from each other.
Unfortunately, only about 10% of my students would actually complete Formative work if I didn’t take a great on them. Their first question is usually, “Is this for a grade?” followed by “How many points is this worth?” I work all year trying to break my students of ‘caring’ about the points… that the points and the grades will come if they just focus on learning the math. Of course, to support that Formative assessment really shouldn’t be graded, I give ‘Note Card Quizzes’ which are not for a grade, but CAN lead to a student getting reduced not-so-fun work that leaves more time for more-fun work. Also, my goFormatives can be corrected for a better grade and I encourage my students to do so, so they can learn from their mistakes.
Unfortunately, another obstacle is district expectations. Middle school students are passed from grade to grade without being held accountable for their learning. Social promotion is deemed more important than actually learning the subject. When the get to high school, NOW they are accountable for their grades. They get lost quickly because they don’t have a solid foundation. I find that we can’t dive too deep because we are filling in the ‘math holes.’ It’s very frustrating!