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Changes to Polk County Assessments 2017-2018

February 14, 2017

What types of assessments are there?

Assessments can be grouped into two types: summative assessments and formative assessments.

Summative assessments are given at the end of a unit of instruction, a quarter, a semester, or a course. They are designed to determine how well a student mastered the course content.

Examples of summative assessments:

  • State tests
  • Midterm exams
  • Final exams

Formative assessments are given throughout instruction and are designed to give information about a student’s specific strengths and weaknesses. They help teachers change their instruction to address these strengths and weaknesses.

Examples of formative assessments:

  • Progress monitoring tests
  • In class activities

What assessments are currently required by the district, beyond state assessments?

For the 2016-17 school year, the district requires the following assessments:

  • Midterm and final exams for select, high-enrollment courses that don’t have state assessments
  • Progress monitoring tests for certain state tested subject areas and grade levels

For the 2017-18 school year, the district plans to eliminate district-created summative assessments (midterm and final exams) and focus instead on helping teachers develop formative assessments.


What are some advantages of formative assessments over summative assessments?

There is ample research available on the positive impacts of formative assessments on student achievement.

Formative assessments help teachers provide better instruction to students by helping them meet the needs of each individual student. This can have a very positive effect on student achievement.

The formative assessment cycle is as shown below:

  • Teachers teach a unit then use formative assessments to collect data on their students’ mastery or non-mastery of the concepts that they taught.
  • After analyzing the data from the formative assessments, teachers plan interventions for those students who have not mastered the content. Students who have mastered the content receive enrichment activities.
  • Teachers implement this plan of action.
  • Teachers reassess their students to determine whether the intervention was successful.

Who will create the formative assessments for 2017-2018?

Over the summer of 2017, the district will provide training for teachers on how to develop and use effective formative assessments.

Formative assessments will be developed by individual teachers or by teams of teachers at each school. Teachers will be able to use their own materials to create these assessments, or they can choose to use a bank of teacher-developed questions to create their assessments.