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The practice of authentic and meaningful assessment of our learners is one of the most crucial things we are called upon to do as teachers. Whether it’s formal or informal, spontaneous or scheduled, assessment can make or break a student’s journey through school.
That’s why it’s important to provide the best ongoing formative assessment we can for our modern tech-oriented students. For that, you need the best formative assessment tools the online world has to offer.
The difficulty lies in the fact that there are so many out there, each for a different kind of educator. In this article we’ve done a bit of the legwork and found our favourites. We’ve also provided you with some exploratory questions to ask when find the tool that’s right for you.
We know you’re busy, so consider this a quick-view guide to finding and investigating the best formative assessment tools for teachers.
Begin by Asking the Right Questions
In our own formative assessment book, Mindful Assessment, we discussed the following parameters for ideal assessment. These are from the New South Wales Department of Education and Training in their Principles of Assessment and Reporting in NSW Public Schools publication:
- Assessment should be integrated into the teaching and learning cycle.
- Assessment needs to be an ongoing, integral part of the teaching and learning cycle. It must allow teachers and students themselves to monitor learning.
- From the teacher perspective, it provides the evidence to guide the next steps in teaching and learning.
- From the student perspective, it provides the opportunity to reflect on and review progress, and can provide the motivation and direction or further learning.
In addition to the above considerations when you’re sourcing the best formative assessment tools for your practice, ask the following questions. If you can think of others, please include them—you can’t ask enough questions when it comes to this kind of thing.
- What does this have over other tools in the same class?
- How often would I use this product?
- How easy is it to learn and use and navigate?
- Would it be interesting and engaging enough for my learners?
- Has it been updated recently to the most current version?
- What features does it offer for me and my learners?
- How will my learners benefit most from my using it?
- Will it help me, as a teacher, fulfill my own objectives?
- Are results and progress easily trackable and recordable?
- Is the sign up process simple and inexpensive?
- What do they offer in terms of support?
The Best Formative Assessment Tools for Teachers
Socrative is one of those tools that keeps getting better with age. Founded in 2010, they’re still going strong. The free plan lets you plan assessments with 50 students in one classroom. With paid plans you can add even more activities and classrooms. Visit them at socrative.com to find out more.
This is the perfect tool for our media-minded learners. Flipgrid is an engaging video discussion platform for performing assessment. As the teacher, you design topics using specialized resources and attachments. From there, the network expands as students respond by recording short videos of their own to reply to and comment on both your and their classmates’ videos.
With Flipgrid’s features you can create widescreen videos, pause while recording, add more after reviewing, and more. Visit flipgrid.com and see what’s on offer.
Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that lets teachers build fun and challenging quizzes for learners. You can create a game or quiz in minutes for any subject and in multiple languages. It also lets you choose from a huge database of pre-created games.
Kahoot! allows students to submit real-time responses using their own devices. In addition, Kahoot! also encourages social learning by letting learners share results and build their own quizzes for posting. See more at kahoot.com.
Edulastics was created in 2014, and provides a fun personalized formative assessment platform for K-12 students and teachers. Today it is used by thousands of educators all over the world. Free plan features include unlimited assessments & students, a 40,000+ auto-graded question bank, instant reporting, and the ability to sync with Google Classroom. Learn more at edulastic.com.
More of the Best Formative Assessment Tools
In addition to the ones above, explore these other tools and the cool formative assessment activities they provide.
When searching for the best formative assessment tools to help your learners succeed, be patient. It can be challenging, but you’ve got to take the time to find the right tool for you. In most cases, you can trial these tools for free to see if they suit you best.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Aug 6, 2019, updated September 30, 2021