getting to formative

Just as it makes little sense to talk about the validity of a test, it makes little sense to talk about a formative test. Although there is a good emphasis on formative assessment of student learning, there is an unfortunate confusion about what the formative means. Too often the instrument is identified as formative, when in fact it is how the information from the instrument is used that makes the evaluation formative. The same test and the results of that test can be used either formatively or summatively. Just as the test is not valid (it is the inferences that are made that have or lack validity), neither is the test itself formative or summative. Popham has a nice little discussion of this in his Ed Week piece Formative Assessment–A Process, Not a Test.

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