Formative Assessment in the Disciplines

Formative Assessment in the Disciplines Framing a Continuum of Professional Learning

Margaret Heritage and E. Caroline Wylie
paper, 304 Pages
Pub. Date: April 2020
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-466-3
Price: $33.00

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In Formative Assessment in the Disciplines, Margaret Heritage and E. Caroline Wylie explore the interconnection of ambitious teaching, formative assessment, and disciplinary knowledge. The authors outline a framework to help teachers develop and extend their proficiency in enacting discipline-based formative assessment practices across the continuum of preservice and professional learning.


A rich and powerful research base connects new disciplinary practice standards, asset-based pedagogies, responsive teaching, and learning-focused classroom assessment. Yet for nearly all novice teachers, this poses the daunting task of learning to teach in ways fundamentally different from how one was taught. Heritage and Wylie provide clear and accessible conceptual frameworks and myriad examples for formative assessment practices in each of the disciplines, and supports for teacher learning of those practices—from preservice to teacher leader roles. — Lorrie A. Shepard, distinguished professor, University of Colorado Boulder

In this welcome and important addition to the field, E. Caroline Wylie and Margaret Heritage provide a general framework for formative assessment and specific guidance on how these ideas can be implemented in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Anyone interested in harnessing the power of formative assessment to improve student achievement should read this book. — Dylan Wiliam, emeritus professor of educational assessment, University College London Institute of Education

The authors accomplish the amazing feat of presenting nuanced information about formative assessment in both teaching and teacher learning—in the disciplines and in the context of contemporary learning theory—in highly readable and compelling text. Engaging examples bring the concepts to life. — Susan M. Brookhart, professor emerita, Duquesne University

Finally, a book that presents the multiple facets of formative assessment, revealing its complex nature hidden in most literature on assessment literacy. — Teachers College Record

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About the Authors

Margaret Heritage is an independent consultant in education. For her entire career, her work has spanned both research and practice. In addition to spending many years in her native England as a practitioner, a university teacher, and an inspector of schools, she had an extensive period at UCLA, first as principal of the laboratory school of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and then as an assistant director at UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing. She has also taught in the departments of education at UCLA and Stanford. Her recent books, both coauthored with Alison Bailey, are Progressing Students’ Language Day by Day (Corwin Press) and Self-Regulation in Learning: The Role of Language and Formative Assessment (Harvard Education Press).

E. Caroline Wylie is a research director at Educational Testing Service. Having completed her preservice teacher education with a focus on mathematics in Belfast, Northern Ireland, her focus shifted to classroom-based research. Those interests include issues related to balanced assessment systems, with a focus on the use of formative assessment to improve classroom teaching and learning. She has led studies related to the creation of effective, scaleable, and sustainable teacher professional development focused on formative assessment; on the formative use of diagnostic questions for classroom-based assessment; on assessment literacy; and on the role of learning progressions to support formative assessment in mathematics and science. She is currently the principal investigator on a grant (funded by the Institute of Education Sciences) that is examining classroom observations with a formative assessment focus and the relationship between observations, feedback, and changes to practice.