Enhancing Formative Assessment Practice and Encouraging Middle School Mathematics Engagement and Persistence


Beesley, A. D., Dempsey, K., Clark, T. F., & Tweed A. (2018). Enhancing formative assessment practice and encouraging middle school mathematics engagement and persistence. School Science and Mathematics, 118, 4-16.


In the transition to middle school, and during the middle school years, students’ motivation for mathematics tends to decline from what it was during elementary school. Formative assessment strategies in mathematics can help support motivation by building confidence for challenging tasks. In this study, the authors developed and piloted a professional development program, Learning to Use Formative Assessment in Mathematics with the Assessment Work Sample Method (AWSM) to build middle school math teachers’ understanding of the characteristics of high-quality formative assessment processes and increases their ability to use them in their classrooms. AWSM proved to be feasible to implement in the middle school setting. It improved teachers’ practice of formative assessment, especially in their feedback practices, regardless of their pedagogical content knowledge at entry. Results from focus groups suggested that teachers were better able to implement ungraded practice and student self- and peer-assessment after AWSM, and that students were more willing to engage in complex problem solving.

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