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Designing an Effective, Year-Round Formative Strategy for Success

Designing an Effective, Year-Round Formative Strategy for Success

Formative assessment is a phrase many know, and practice in their classrooms, but it’s one with varying interpretations. It’s important to zero in on a method that works for you and meets district guidelines, and is both deliberate and effectively implemented. Described simply, formative assessments involve keeping a pulse on what your students know while they’re still in the process of learning it, and they’re a tremendous asset in a culture of more personalized education.  Following the results of the 2022 spring summative assessments, it’s clear that many students are in need of tremendous accelerated learning recovery, making formative assessment more important than ever.

Formative assessment is an integral part of effectively understanding if your students are meeting grade-level standards, and if they aren’t, it shows where that learning is breaking down—long before it shows up on a state assessment. Quick, effective checks throughout the year allow students to interact with new material and helps them comprehend it better. Formative assessment can guide an educator’s future instructional strategy, but many teachers often still struggle to find tools to develop interesting way to assess that don’t require additional time away from the classroom to grade.

Formative assessment doesn’t need to be a time-consuming process, and while it can take many forms, every version should meet these criteria:

  • Provides timely and detailed feedback
  • Occurs during the learning process
  • Offers a way to modify teaching and learning

Now, take your understanding of this concept and apply it to a tool that can adapt to the situation, can be deployed quickly and seamlessly, and can be used with a minimal amount of effort.

What tool works seamlessly? Enter Study Island, Edmentum’s formative assessment and practice program built to your state’s standards and proven to help students achieve high math and reading assessment scores. Study Island helps educators make their instruction more effective by offering year-round, flexible formative assessment tools to quickly measure who’s getting it—and who’s not. Here are a few ways that educators can utilize the program in their classroom to get real-time data from their class:

Group Sessions

Study Island’s Group Sessions feature is an engaging way to work meaningful formative assessment into your classroom. With three different modes (checkpoint, challenge, and race) to choose from, Group Sessions give educators the ability to launch flexible and fun assessments that work for the style of learning your students need. Each of the modes is easy to use, meaning that you can stand up a session in less than five minutes on the fly, and the modes are flexible enough to also plan out in your upcoming week’s lessons.

Using a Group Session before or after a lesson to check for understanding allows you to get immediate feedback and actionable data—both vital pieces for driving meaningful instruction in your classroom. As a huge added bonus, because Group Sessions are embedded in an online tool, you can utilize these tools both virtually and in the classroom, which is imperative in the current educational landscape!

Test Builder

In addition to Group Sessions, educators can also use Study Island’s Test Builder tool to implement effective pretests and posttests in their classrooms to guide instructional decisions. Test Builder allows educators to build their own custom assessments in Study Island from the vast state-standards-aligned item bank within the program. Built Tests also yield standard-based reporting to guide educator instruction, enabling constructive conversations regarding students’ mastery of specific standards on the spot.

Educators at Walton Middle School of Walton County School District in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, use Test Builder to create custom formative assessments year-round in their school, providing additional practice and data in the classroom. The school saw a five-percent increase in its students’ science scores in just one year of using Study Island!


Study Island is called a “formative assessment and practice tool” for good reason. In addition to Group Sessions and Test Builder, the practice portion of Study Island also works as an effective measure of mastery in the classroom. With practice content built to your state’s standards, you can kiss any doubts about whether the assessment material is accurate goodbye. Each topic within the program includes a fixed 10-question practice session, allowing you to check for student understanding and make informed decisions following the results. With practice sessions, flexibility shines. Teachers can assign practice sessions ahead of time or allow students to self-select sessions inside their accounts on the fly. Students are also able to earn incentive Blue Ribbons in their practice sessions, as well as work in game mode, making the practice option both engaging and effective!

No matter you how you formatively assess learning, keep it continuous and high quality—there’s power in the ongoing data! Study Island is the perfect tool to drive formative assessment in the classroom without sacrificing time and flexibility. If you’re eager to uncover more ways to formatively asses your students, check out this blog post that highlights creative methods of doing so, or learn more about how Edmentum’s Study Island can help you seamlessly incorporate formative assessment in your classroom to turn data into classroom action!

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Brittany Voges

Brittany Voges currently serves as a Marketing Specialist at Edmentum, and has been with the company since 2016. Before her time at Edmentum, Brittany studied both Early Childhood and Elementary Education, and eventually went on to teach 4th grade in Title 1 schools. Because of her background in education, Brittany is passionate about providing educators across the United States and the world with the tools and best practices to empower their students each day in the classroom.