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Formative Assessment,

Formative Strategies: Formative Focus/Today's Target

People often ask how we keep track of formative assessments. We are constantly assessing students through a variety of daily activities. 

Students not only have in-class and homework assignments for formative checks, but they also complete a daily Target Chart. Here is an example of one strategy we use, called Formative Focus/Today's Target.

Daily learning targets are assessed with this exit slip activity. Students have a weekly chart where they record their learning targets for each day. This is a chart of three columns with sections for the date, the target ("I can…" statement), and the student response ("Prove It"). By the end of the class period, they must complete the "Prove It" section and drop it in the basket as they exit the classroom. We check these daily. Student responses are scored with a plus ("You've got it!), a check mark ("Check with a peer to put all the pieces together."), or a minus ("See me!").

Formative Focus/Today's Target provides a lens into how students are conceptualizing the information presented. Because the targets are graded daily, any common misunderstandings can be quickly addressed in a whole class setting to get students back on track. If only a few students have missed the mark, they will "See me!" for a quick review while the rest of the class is recording the target of the day.

Formative activities that are completed in class or for homework are assessed with an E, M, P, or L. Students receiving an E are exceeding expectations for mastering the target. An M is given when a student has shown mastery of the target. P is for students who are progressing toward mastery of the target. Students receiving an L have a limited understanding of the target. These scores are recorded in PowerSchool as percentages of understanding (E=100%, M=90%, P=75%, L=50%). These scores are not weighted in a student's overall grade. The scores are recorded to inform students and parents of present levels of understanding. We also add a sticker to E and M papers. It's amazing, but stickers still motivate middle schoolers!

Formative assessments are the checkpoints that scaffold understanding to prepare students for an overall summative assessment of several learning targets. These formative activities will differ depending on the area of focus (e.g., distinguishing between similes and metaphors before creating them in their own writing).

The in-class and homework formative assessments are used to provide students with descriptive feedback. Student progress on these assessments guides instruction for moving the whole class toward mastery of targets.

Formative assessments are the pathway to mastery. Posting this information for students and parents to view provides a clear picture of student progress.

This is just one route on the formative pathway. Sometimes the road can be winding. Trust us, you'll get there, and the view at the end is spectacular!

You can do it, and we're here to help!

Mindy, Lance, & Lani


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