Fostering lifelong learning mindsets in our kids is our ultimate goal as educators. Teach them self-assessment and they’ll teach themselves. What about sharing some useful formative assessment tips with your students?

There was probably never a time in our lives where we actually welcomed assessment. If there was, that assessment was likely not graded and was designed to help us improve. Not only that, but we were also probably able to discuss it.

If you’re like many teachers, you have a regiment of self-assessment that you use. Musicians, athletes, or artists critique their own work daily. We hope that the same self-analysis can be carried over to our students.


Here are some formative assessment tips to make assessments an inspiring undertaking. Since we are teaching students how to make it in the real world, we will borrow from 10 Tips for Making Self-Evaluations Meaningful from

Keep in mind we are talking about self-assessment because we know that self-reflection goes a long way. We are giving formative assessment tips rather than ‘end-game’ summative assessment.

Formative Assessment Tips for All Students

1. Talk about your career map

What are your big goals outside of this particular project? Can you see any skills that you acquired by working through this project? How did this bring you closer to your goal?

2. Keep an open dialogue

Talk over the assessment with your teacher. Be open and avoid being defensive. Listen, then ask questions to clarify.

3. Ask how the self evaluations are used

While formative self-assessment should not be graded, it is a good idea to cover your bases. The best idea is to get a copy which includes those great constructive critiques.

4. Ask yourself the hard questions

By all means, challenge yourself to get at the truth. Look at your weaknesses and things you could have done better. After all, you will use the evaluation to improve.

5. Stay positive

Don’t beat yourself up. Forgive yourself for any failure. Failure doesn’t define you. It is, in fact, one of the most useful life tools you can have. Pick yourself up and move on to better accomplishments.

6. Learn to handle your shortcomings

Know them in advance before your teacher does. This shows that you are self-aware, and not just looking for validation for a job well done. Musicians will hone in on difficult passages, slow them down, then speed them up until they’re just right. Do something similar.

7. Ask for training

Seek help when needed. Don’t go it alone or try to reinvent the wheel. Someone’s gone through the same thing before you. It is your teacher’s responsibility to provide you with avenues to improve.

8. Document your achievements

Build a portfolio of your successes. This is key to see your progress and to prepare for the job market with stuff you’re proud of. Do not overlook this important step.

9. Examine differing points of view

If you and your teacher’s evaluations about you are vastly different, you’ll need to clarify the goals that need to be set. Something is getting lost in translation, and some redirecting is in order.

10. Ask for guidance, direction, and mentoring

This goes in line with asking for training, but bears repeating. Collaboration and community support are so important.

By taking cues from the job market, we can translate these experiences to the school level. This aids us in preparing students for the real world. With these inspiring formative assessment tips, students stand to learn more about themselves. They’ll also learn how to bring about improvement in their work and in their lives.


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