*Why is changing teaching practice so difficult? Educational leaders must provide guidance on the creation of site-based teacher learning communities that can support teachers in developing their use of classroom formative assessment?*

So in 2017 the transition to the CA CCSSM is getting closer to the nightmares brought onto teachers under the NCLB Act of 2001. While reflecting back, we have seen tremendous growth in elementary school test scores reaching 800 plus. The nation failed to reach the utopia 100% proficient by 2014. The reason for this failure was not in the curriculum or standards but the instruction. It is not the curriculum or the state test that is important. It is not the grade that matters. The question everyone should have been curious about was “Did student learning occur and if so how or when did we know it happened? Even more important is did the student know this was going on. Formative assessment will become even more important than summative assessments in 2016 and beyond for teachers of mathematics.

Formative assessment has become the most efficient way of knowing which students are learning, which are stuck and where, and which students just aren’t getting it at all. It is information teachers collect in deliberate ways: listening to class discussions, glancing over a student’s shoulder as he or she complete an in-class assignment, asking three opening questions, collecting papers for review, and so on.

These are things that don’t normally end up in the grade book but are little feedback loops signaling the amount of progress we are making toward the end goal. Typically it is important to jot down the names of students the teacher will need to give some one-on-one attention to the next day, or perhaps invite to a tutoring session before school.

# It is not the curriculum Dummies!

More professional development dollars should focus on empowering more teachers to learn how to use formative assessment. Teachers need to expand the idea that formative assessment should cover just the curriculum-related skills. We need to stretch this concept to include the standards of mathematical practice student skills that are vital to the larger task of learning.

Formative assessment done well can help amplify the effectiveness of a teacher. It creates a synergetic loop of information flowing from teacher to student and back to the teacher and then back to the student again. Teachers who master the use of formative assessment and feedback will know they are making a difference, and students will understand what they must do to be successful.

Today’s student have multiple resources beyond the textbook through the use of technology connected to the Internet using Web 2.0 tools. Students need to know how to access and use these instruments to support their learning. They need to know how to research for help through Performing an Internet search and evaluating which sources will best help respond to the question; knowing how to collect evidence to support an idea, inference, or conclusion; writing clear summations of our work; and so on.

**Grades Can Not Guide Student Learning**

Classroom assessment is essential for students to become deeply involved in their learning. Grades are no substitute. However, grades do not tell them much about what they need to learn or what they need to do better. Students need to have an idea of what to do to improve their skills. Students need feedback and not grades. Students need feedback to gauge their progress of learning to master the standards. Sometimes feedback is on the content of the curriculum and sometimes on foundational skills.

### Graphing Relationships Between Two Quantities

This 11-minute video features Jaime Bonato─a high school mathematics teacher in the San Juan Unified School District─demonstrating the formative assessment process as her high school math class discusses the relationship between the rate at which water fills a container and its corresponding graph (Posted 07-Jul-2016, CDE, 2016).

### Using Ratios to Solve Real-World Problems

This 9-minute video features Travis Burke─a math professional development coach in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District─demonstrating the formative assessment process as his grade 6 students discusses different ratio combinations for the perfect glass of chocolate milk. Students teach each other different strategies for solving this problem and then attempt to convince classmates that their strategy is best (Posted 8-Apr-2016, CDE, 2016).

Smarter Balanced Digital Library

The formative assessment component of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System

CAASPP Teacher Guide: Smarter Balanced Assessments

Guides for teachers to deepen understanding of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, their alignment with the California Common Core State Standards, and their intended connection to classroom teaching (updated 01-Jul-2016).