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Different Types of Formative Assessment in Lesson Plans

Assessment in general comes in three varieties: diagnostic, formative and summative. Diagnostic assessments test a student's current abilities without any preparation on the part of the student, making them useful at the beginning of a school year or unit of study. Formative assessments happen continually throughout a unit of study or school year in order to monitor and record student progress. Summative assessments test a student's cumulative learning in a subject area. There are several types of formative assessments that you can include in your lesson plans to help you monitor your students on their learning journeys.


Homework can be an ideal way for students to practice what they have learned in school. When teachers use homework as a formative assessment, they should mainly check it for completion; this way, they do not punish a student for his practice with the new material he learned in class that day. Teachers can collect homework as a way to check over the information students have practiced and identify areas that need improvement or reteaching.


Quizzes may seem like summative assessments because they are graded and students often associate them with tests. However, a quiz can easily become a formative assessment format. In order for a quiz to be a formative assessment, teachers may want to consider letting students retake the quiz to earn a higher grade. This way they allow students to come to an understanding of the quiz material on individual time tables instead of all conforming to one schedule for learning.

Entrance and Exit Slips

Entrance slips, sometimes also called "bell ringers," are small activities students do at the beginning of class. This is an excellent classroom management strategy because it forces students to enter the classroom and immediately focus on the task at hand. It can also be useful as a formative assessment; the teacher assigns the students to think about something and jot down a quick response or answer a few short questions, and then as she asks students to share their answers she can informally assess their understanding of that particular subject. Exit slips work in the same fashion, except that students complete these activities at the

end of the class period and have to turn it in as their "ticket" to leave class. When the student reads through these short responses she can get a quick "snapshot" of her students' performance levels.

Class Discussion

When a teacher intentionally asks comprehension questions during a lesson, he is using a formative assessment technique. Incorporating questions into a lesson plan helps the teacher identify quickly the students who do and do not understand the topic of the lesson. It's an informal and fast way to assess student awareness and knowledge.

Types of Formative Assessment

Educators use formative assessments to monitor and update classroom instruction, and these types of assessments are not used in the grade point average of the student. Types of formative assessment include informal observation, worksheets, pop quizzes, journals and diagnostic tests that enable the teacher to assess how students are performing and how well the particular lesson plan is working. In fact, some teachers like to use formative evaluation as a prompt to design courses of instruction.


One form of formative assessment is observing the students as they work on a specific project. The teacher roams around the classroom, occasionally offering guidance and encouragement as the students work. The observation works well when the teacher wishes to monitor how students work together in groups or individually. She takes notes on how students are performing and also whether or not modifications need to be made to the assignment.


Teachers may use worksheets as formative assessments. These can be classwork or given out as homework. This work will not be included in the student's official grade average but rather used as a means to gauge how well the student understands the material being covered. The teacher may find that the work is too easy for the students or that they are not comprehending the information well enough. Using this information, he can then make modifications as needed.

Pop Quizzes

Often teachers use pop quizzes to gauge student comprehension. Again, these quizzes are not graded. One method of a formative assessment in quiz form is to use an overhead projector to run through questions regarding the lesson and have the class answer as a whole. This form of assessment works well when reviewing for a summative test. Teachers can also give individual quizzes to students or have groups of students complete a quiz.


One effective means of formative assessment is the journal. Students are required to periodically write their thoughts and feelings about how they are progressing in the class. They can also tell what they liked or didn't like about a particular assignment. This information gives the teacher a quick look at how effective a certain lesson plan was. If the majority of the class journals that they had a difficult time with a particular lesson, then the teacher knows he needs to make changes to that lesson.

Diagnostic Tests

Generally used toward the beginning of the class term, diagnostic tests are a type of formative assessment that allows the teacher and administration to determine the proper level of instruction for students. Diagnostics can be used in almost any subject to assess the level of proficiency, comprehension and mastery of information. It is helpful to inform the students that this is a diagnostic tool that will not be graded but will be used to help them see their strong and weak areas in a subject. Informing the students reduces test anxiety and produces more accurate diagnostic results.