What Schools and Districts Need to Know to Support Teachers’ Use of Formative Assessment
by Caroline Wylie & Christine Lyon - August 03, 2009
The focus of this commentary is on supporting teachers’ use of formative assessment. We argue that it is not sufficient to focus on what teachers need to know, but there also needs to be consideration of the larger system in which those teachers find themselves. This paper will draw on lessons learned in the context of the Keeping Learning on Track (KLT) program regarding the support that district and school level administrators must provide in order for teacher professional development to be effective, and what they need to know in order to provide that support. Our focus has been on school-based teacher professional development that supports teachers’ use of formative assessment in their everyday teaching via sustained, school-based teacher learning communities. However, previous experience has shown that, even with a strong advocate for the program, it can be difficult to ensure a coherent message at various levels across the district. As a result, teachers fail to receive adequate support, which weakens implementation quality. We examine what we have learned about district and administrative support for the implementation of formative assessment and outline a body of knowledge that school and district administrators need in order to support formative assessment.
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