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Formative assessment is the driving force behind effective teaching. Through daily informal assessments teachers determine what students do and do not understand and adapt instruction to meet students’ needs. Additionally, effective teachers use varied methods such as tests, observation, checklists, anecdotal records, student performances, and authentic projects (Bransford, et al., 2000; Darling-Hammond, 2007; Guskey, 2009; Moats, 1999; Tomlinson, 2003; William, 2007).
While assessment is critical to good teaching, assessment does not necessarily lead to good teaching. What matters most is what teachers do after each assessment. Most importantly data collected from assessments must influence instruction. For example, data can help teachers determine appropriate pacing for instruction, specific skills to target and reinforce, and which students need additional instruction or interventions (Datnow, Park, & Kennedy, 2008). Additionally, it is important that teachers deconstruct assessments in order to use them to provide feedback that is useful to students (Guskey, 2007). Brookhart (2007) reviewed assessment literature to conclude that good feedback must be comprehensible to students, help students “see” what they need to work on, and help students recognize that they can improve through expending effort that is focused in specific ways.