Types of Formative Assessment

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  • 0:03 Formative Assessment Defined
  • 0:39 Quizzes
  • 1:23 Exit Slips
  • 2:23 KWL Charts
  • 3:24 Observation,…
  • 4:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derek Hughes

Derek has a Masters of Science degree in Teaching, Learning & Curriculum.

Formative assessments are an incredibly important part of the teaching process. This lesson will detail several types of formative assessments that you can use to monitor student learning in your classroom.

Formative Assessment Defined

Throughout the year, you should be checking your students' understanding and learning through formative assessment. Formative assessment consists of the methods through which a teacher monitors and checks student understanding on a continual basis. Formative assessment is different than summative assessment, or evaluations of knowledge at the end of units to check total understanding, in that it is often done several times during a lesson or unit and doesn't always need to be graded. This lesson will detail several types of formative assessments and provide examples of these assessments in practice.


Perhaps the most classic formative assessment, quizzes can be given to students at any point during a unit or lesson. Quizzes are short, specific assessments that serve to give quantitative data about student learning. Quizzes can sometimes be graded but are most useful when used to gauge student understanding of a topic.

For example, in the middle of a unit on fractions, a short quiz can be given to see if students are understanding the basics of fractions. This quiz will ask a few questions about numerators, denominators, and parts of a whole. Depending on student performance on the quiz, you can determine whether or not to move on to more complex topics or spend some more time teaching the basics.

Exit Slips

Classroom exit slips are also effective formative assessment tools. These exit slips are small pieces of paper on which students are required to write or respond to a question in order to leave the room to move on to another class, lunch, or recess. Exit slips are very flexible and can be tailored to the specific lessons you are teaching.

An example of an exit slip would be having students answer a question on an index card, pertaining to whatever was just taught or discussed in class. As you read over the exit slips and student answers to your question, you can see where students are in their understanding of the topic. If students mostly seem to have mastered the concept, the next time the subject matter is scheduled in class, you can move on to more advanced content. If the answers to the question indicate a lack of understanding, a review will likely be needed before advancing to the next unit. Exit slips also allow teachers to monitor individual student progress in order to see who needs extra help.

KWL Charts

KWL charts are a graphic organizer in which students write what they know already about a topic (K), what they want to learn about a topic (W), and eventually, what they learned about a topic during the unit or lesson (L).

Remember the acronym as:

  • K for know
  • W for want
  • L for learn

These charts can be long-term formative assessments that allow you to periodically check student understanding.

Before you begin a new unit, have students fill in the first two sections of the KWL chart. For instance, during the introduction of a unit about the Civil War, ask them to write down what they already know and what they would like to know about the war. As you move through the unit, periodically give students time to make notes in the last section, writing down what they have learned about the war so far. KWL charts allow you evaluate what has been learned and increase student engagement by incorporating information students want to learn from the W section.

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