Authentic/Formative Assessment


Graphic from: Rigorous Curriculum Design: How to Create Curricular Units Of Study that Align Standards, Instruction, And Assessment, Larry Ainsworth

The heart and soul of Common Core Curriculum Standards revolves around the teacher’s ability to design and implement a variety of authentic and formative (“informative”) assessments to move students to mastery. Because many publishers offer material available on this topic, this page will just focus on just some of the helpful links, books and videos. I’ve deferred to expert, Grant Wiggins, who on the Edutopia link below explains the critical importance of authentic and formative assessment. Following that are direct links to FREE authentic assessment strategies collected by universities and department of educations in other states. After that, there is a partial list of helpful books and resources on this topic. Please use the Publisher link on this website and investigate other products.

1. Edutopia: Website founded by famed movies director George Lucas to promote 21st Century “what works” in teaching and schools. Many videos, blogs, essays, etc. This definitive essay by Grant Wiggins, explains authentic assessment:

2. West Virginia Department of Education: This is a comprehensive website designed to enable West Virginia “educators to quickly access 21st Century Content Standards, Learning Skills and Technology Tools for WV Schools, as well as other resources that exemplify rigorous and relevant instructional design and delivery”.   They provides direct links to many examples of 17 different types of authentic assessment:

3. John Mueller: Another comprehensive website from a Wisconsin University, providing extensive links to teaching strategies and assessments. Authentic assessments organized by grade level and by content:Jonathan Mueller’s Authentic Assessment Toolbox.

4.Rubrics provide an effective way to measure student performance:   Rubistar is a FREE tool to help teachers create quality rubrics.

5. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything: This is the consummate website for “educational technology stuff”—

She has Rubrics for just about everything. A very powerful and helpful website:
Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything: Authentic Assessment

6. SPENCER KAGAN Cooperative Learning: Excellent for a rich blend of Active Teaching and Measuring Understanding: There are many websites detailing some of his structures; this invaluable book teaches over 100 strategies. In addition, his organization provides workshops all over the nation, workshops that energize, inspire and transform teaching. See: Kagan Cooperative Learning for a list of his over 100 structures:

a) Dr. Kagan’s invaluable book. Essential for anyone seeking to learn how to implement cooperative learning, which provides a rich blend of active teaching and formative assessments.

b)Other Websites with featuring Dr. Kagan’s work

Placemat Consensus: Very complex cooperative critical thinking structure explained here:


Books: Formative Assessment

DOUGLAS REEVES Navigating The Common Core Standards (Assessment This groundbreaking series will include one book devoted just to formative assessment. At the time this website was published, it was not available. This series will provide expert guidance for all administrators and teachers:


LARRY AINSWORTH: Rigorous Curriculum Design: How to Create Curricular Units Of Study that Align Standards, Instruction, And Assessment, Larry Ainsworth. Mr. Ainsworth is a tactical master in guiding administrators and teachers in deconstructing and constructing powerful curriculum, all around effective teaching and assessing. Mr. Ainsworth is also a member of the Lead and Learn group of authors and presenters listed above. This powerful book should be in the hands of every administrator.


RICK WORMELLI: 50 Summarization Techniques: As summarization is a form of authentic assessment, this is a powerful resource providing novel ways to address this one technique. It is well organized, providing innovative ways to summarize increasingly complex non-fiction and fiction, using a broad array of strategies from Socratic Dialogue to “gallery walks”.

JUDITH DODGE: 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom: Easy, Low-Prep Assessments That Help You Pinpoint Students' Needs and Reach All Learners
This resource is particularly helpful to the novice teacher, unfamiliar to formative assessment. Ready made easy-to-use tools to help educators.

LAURA ROBB: Assessments for Differentiating Reading Instruction: 100 Forms on CD and Checklists for Identifying Students' Strengths and Needs So You Can Help Every Reader Improve  This fantastic resource even includes a CD Rom of forms to use.


CHRIS TOVANI: So What Do They Really Know? Mr. Tovani’s heart-warming acknowledgement recognizes each teacher’s struggle in striving to use assessment to inform instruction. Although he states his “book only begins to scratch the surface” he provides a wealth of strategies including: discussion calendars, color coding, and annotations. His graphics on The Workshop Model as a time-Based Structure and The Workshop Model as a Structure for Assessment are worth the price of the book. This website allows you to preview the book online.


ROBERT MARZANO—referenced by virtually every researcher in terms of his passion for improving the quality of teaching. All of his books should be in a school’s professional library. His home website links to many free materials on both guided instruction and formative assessment:

Robert J. Marzano and John L. Brown. A Handbook for the Art and Science of Teaching (2009)

Robert J. Marzano.  Transforming Classroom Grading (2000)

Robert J. Marzano.  What Works in Schools: Translating Research into Action (2003)


GRANT WIGGINS AND JAY MCTIGHE: The consummate package of resources to train teachers on intentional teaching and intentional assessment. UNDERSTANDING BY DESIGN: Mr. Wiggins is president of Authentic Education. Any of his books and resources provide invaluable resources to help teachers. This links to a webinar based on “…that a course or unit should provide rich, engaging, and rigorous ways of meeting the Common Core State Standards and assessing against them, not merely touch on related content”.


Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. The Understanding by Design Professional Development Workbook (2004)

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. The Understanding by Design Guide to Creating High-Quality Units (2011)

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe.  Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition (2005)


RICK STIGGINS: CLASSROOM ASSESSMENT FOR STUDENT LEARNING-DOING IT RIGHT AND DOING IT WELL: Mr. Stiggins, founder of Assessment Training Institute, trains teachers on how to create high quality assessments and use them in the service of student success. This 2004 book outlines 7 practices of Assessment For Learning, all components of the INTENTIONAL TEACHING required by CCSS and the fundamental instructional design of AAMP. The 7 practices are: Where Am I Going?-- Provide a clear and understandable vision of the learning target; use examples and models of strong and weak work; Where Am I Now?-- Offer regular descriptive feedback; teach students to self-assess to set goals; How Can I Close the Gap?-- Design lessons to focus on one aspect of quality at a time; teach student-focused revision; engage students in self-reflection, and let them keep track of and share their learning.



Susan M. Brookhart. 
Exploring Formative Assessment (2009)
Susan M. Brookhart. 
Formative Assessment Strategies for Every Classroom: An ASCD Action Tool, 2nd Edition (2010)
Susan M. Brookhart. 
How to Assess Higher-Order Thinking Skills in Your Classroom (2010)

Susan M. Brookhart.  How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students (2008)



Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey.  Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom (2007)

Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and Carol Rothenberg.  Content-Area Conversations: How to Plan Discussion-Based Lessons for Diverse Language Learners (2008)

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. 
Enhancing RTI: How to Ensure Success with Effective Classroom Instruction & Intervention (2010)

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey.  Guided Instruction: How to Develop Confident and Successful Learners (2010)

Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey. The Purposeful Classroom: How to Structure Lessons with Learning Goals in Mind (2011)

Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher. The Formative Assessment Action Plan: Practical Steps to More Successful Teaching and Learning (2011)

Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher and Sandi Everlove.  Productive Group Work: How to Engage Students, Build Teamwork, and Promote Understanding (2009)


Strategies to meet the needs of all students.


Carol Ann Tomlinson, Kay Brimijoin and Lane Narvaez. The Differentiated School: Making Revolutionary Changes in Teaching and Learning (2008)

Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson.  Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, Grades K-5 (2003)

Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson.  Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, Grades 5–9 (2003)

Carol Ann Tomlinson and Cindy A. Strickland.  Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, Grades 9–12 (2005)

Carol Ann Tomlinson.  Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom: Strategies and Tools for Responsive Teaching (2003)

PERSIDA HIMMELE AND WILLIAM HIMMELE: Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner (2011)

W. JAMES POPHAM:  Transformative Assessment in Action: An Inside Look at Applying the Process (2011)

DAVID R. SNOW Classroom Strategies for Helping At-Risk Students (2005)

Authentic Assessment Books: offers 15 pages of books on Authentic Assessment: