INFORMative Assessment: Formative Assessment to Improve Math Achievement, Grades K–6


What is formative assessment? Why do we do it and what do students gain? Formative assessment is not a one-time event. It is not the product or end result of a set of well-defined steps. Rather, formative assessment is a process identified in this resource as INFORMative assessment when it is a collection of strategies that engage teachers and students in becoming partners to support students' learning.

This resource uniquely presents a collaborative learning journey in which educators

  • understand the INFORMative perspective;
  • explore must-have practices; and
  • discuss how to implement them.

More than forty reflections support teachers in confidently

  • evaluating tasks;
  • making inferences about student understandings based on their written work;
  • creating plans to address student misconceptions;
  • developing probing questions;
  • giving actionable feedback; and more.

Each chapter includes a place for you to record notes about your use of INFORMative assessment—the changes in your thinking, your questions, your frustrations, and, most importantly, your successes!

Jeane M. Joyner and Mari Muri
336 pages

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Jeane M. Joyner is a research associate in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Meredith College. A former elementary mathematics consultant and a classroom assessment consultant with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Joyner has taught preschool through college courses. She is the coauthor of Dynamic Classroom Assessment.
Mari Muri consults with schools in Connecticut through PIMMS at Wesleyan University. She was a math specialist with the Connecticut Department of Education and currently serves on several math-related boards of directors.

"INFORMing yourself about formative assessment is one of the most important journeys you can take as a teacher, and I can’t think of any better guides for your learning adventure than Jeane Joyner and Mari Muri. Their guidebook is easy to read, with the kind of practical guidance and common-sense advice that can only come from years of experience and study. Enjoy the trip!"

Cathy Seeley, Author of Faster Isn’t Smarter: Messages About Math, Teaching, and Learning in the 21st Century
Past President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Senior Fellow, Charles A. Dana Center, The University of Texas at Austin

"Many talk about formative assessment and much research touts its importance, but few have been able to translate the tenets of meaningful formative assessment as effectively as Mari and Jeane do in this wonderfully written and most helpful book. Using a slew of practical examples, classroom vignettes, and student work, the authors bring the powerful ideas of continuously assessing student understanding to life in very accessible ways."

Steve Leinwand, Principal Research Analyst
American Institutes for Research

"Understanding the use and impact of assessments is challenging for many. INFORMative Assessmentcaptures the elusive nature and importance of varied assessments beautifully, including the link to curriculum and instruction and the critical role of formative assessment. As schools and school districts transition to the Common Core State Standards and their related assessments, this amazing resource will become an important “use every day” reference!"

Francis (Skip) Fennell
L. Stanley Bowlsbey, Professor of Education and Graduate and Professional Studies
McDaniel College, Westminster, Maryland
Project Director, Elementary Mathematics Specialists and Teacher Leaders Project
Past President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

"In clear, practical terms, the authors show what formative assessment really is and how to implement it in your classroom. The readable style, the examples of student work, and the opportunities for reflection make the use of formative assessment feel doable as well as essential for improving student understanding of mathematics."

Nancy Teague, Grades 4–6 Mathematics Specialist
Greensboro Day School, North Carolina

"Each chapter in INFORMative Assessmentis a professional development handbook packed with strategies to assist teachers with the tools needed to improve instruction; it’s an ideal resource for a district workshop or a college mathematics methods class."

Audrey Jackson
Board of Directors (2005–2008), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Director of Professional Development, St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis, Missouri

"INFORMative Assessmentis a powerful resource for helping districts and teachers move from covering curriculum in their approach to teaching, learning, and assessment to clearly defining learning targets and assessments that inform instruction."

Sally Alubicki
Director of Teaching and Assessment, West Hartford Public Schools
West Hartford, Connecticut

"Getting directly to the heart of the matter, INFORMative Assessmentillustrates beautifully how to use assessment as a tool to impact instruction rather than as a tool to label and rank."

Catherine Twomey Fosnot
Founding Director, Mathematics in the City
Coauthor, Young Mathematicians at Work
Author, Contexts for Learning Mathematics

"This resource helps teachers use formative assessment to better understand student thinking and plan appropriate instruction; it’s an ideal match for today’s emphasis on assessment."

Barbara J. Reys
President, Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators
Distinguished Professor, University of Missouri-Columbia

"INFORMative Assessmentmakes the process of assessment, and the reasons it is critical to student achievement, very clear. It is a wonderful resource for the classroom teacher, as well as teacher leaders looking to build capacity."

Gail Englert
Mathematics Department Chair, W. H. Ruffner Academy
Norfolk Public Schools, Norfolk, Virginia

"Teachers need the support and information that INFORMative Assessmentso carefully and thoroughly presents, and they need it right now."

Miriam A. Leiva
Founding President, TODOS: Mathematics for ALL
Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Emerita, University of NC Charlotte

"Good teaching is not following a script; INFORMative Assessmenttakes teachers on a thoughtful, reflective journey to making instruction decisions based on what their students know and still need to learn."

Kathy Richardson
Program Director, Math Perspectives
Developer, Assessing Math Concepts/AMC Anywhere Formative Assessments
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