Literature review: formative assessment evidence and practice

Rod Lane, Rauno Parrila, Matt Bower, Rebecca Bull, Michael Cavanagh, Anne Forbes, Tiffany Jones, Maryam Khosronejadtoroghi, David Leaper, Liz Pellicano, Sarah Powell, Mary Ryan, Iliana Skrebneva

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


    Formative assessment has been defined as any interaction that generates data on student learning and is used by teachers and students to inform teaching and learning, to address specific student learning difficulties and support learning growth over time.

    A wide variety of assessment strategies, tools and resources currently exist to support and improve teachers’ capacities to collect and analyse reliable data on student achievement and to adjust their teaching to meet each student’s needs for enhanced learning outcomes. There is a widespread assumption in the academic literature that formative assessment leads to better learning outcomes for students.

    Presently, we know little about the most effective ways of implementing formative assessment, including optimal school and educational system structures and supports. Systematic review of evidence is made more difficult by a lack of clarity and consensus regarding the nature and definition of formative assessment.
    This review, commissioned by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL), synthesises national and international research on the effective formative assessment practices of teachers and school leaders, including their current capacities, challenges and needs. It presents the findings of a review of peer-reviewed studies meeting robust experimental design criteria that examine formative assessment practices in Australian and international K-12 contexts. It further delivers an analysis and critical review of research relevant to formative assessment practices, including (but not limited to) the use of online assessment tools.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationMelbourne
    PublisherAustralian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)
    Commissioning bodyAustralian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL)
    Number of pages174
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • education
    • assessment
    • teacher training


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