Publications & Resources

Formative Assessment for Next Generation Science Standards: A Proposed Model

Dec 2013

Joan L. Herman

Today there is growing recognition of the limitations of accountability testing of learning and wide acknowledgment and accumulating evidence of the crucial role that formative assessment—assessment for learning—can play in helping all students achieve rigorous standards. Rather than looking back to judge what has been learned, formative assessment projects forward. It involves the ongoing collection and use of assessment during instruction to understand where students are relative to intended goals, as well as the use of that data to take immediate action—to adapt teaching and learning—to help students get to where they need to go. If formative assessment is a process, it needs effective tools and strategies to reach its promise. Measurement-oriented researchers and assessment developers tend to have the latter as a focus: the design and validation of tools and strategies that may be necessary to enact effective formative assessment practice. Commercial vendors try to make the case for their interim or benchmark testing serving formative purposes. Other researchers bring to bear diverse theoretical perspectives in their definition and consideration of essential mechanisms and outcomes of the formative assessment process, highlighting advances in cognitive, motivation, and sociocultural theory.
This paper attempts a synthesis of these various perspectives to propose a conceptual model underlying the design and implementation of formative assessment to support the learning goals of the Next Generation Science Standards (Achieve Inc., 2013). The paper starts with a selective review of diverse literatures bearing on effective formative assessment practice and uses this literature to describe and justify a proposed model. The paper then highlights special considerations for and provides examples of the model’s application in Next Generation Science Standards, and ends with implications for the design of coherent assessment systems that support student learning.

Herman, J. (2013). Formative assessment for Next Generation Science Standards: A proposed model (CRESST Resource Paper No. 16). Los Angeles, CA: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).