Transformative Assessment

by W. James Popham, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Va., 2008, 150 pp., $22.95 softcover

Transformative Assessment is a succinct, no-nonsense discussion about a teaching process to transform learning. Missing for the reader are tedious, pedantic references.

Written by veteran researcher James Popham, this book is devoted to practitioners. For those seeking an expansion of his discussions, readers are referred to 21 additional works. Consistent with reader-friendly style, Popham designates with five stars those that he deems to be particularly useful for practitioners.

Each chapter begins with a preview and ends with a succinct summary. Four levels of formative assessment are defined and discussed. These include teacher instructional adjustments, students’ learning tactic adjustments, classroom climate shift and schoolwide implementation.

Popham, an emeritus professor of education at UCLA, offers a simple and clear understanding of formative assessment. He provides encouragement to try imperfect assessment. He stresses the importance of letting go of trepidations because practicing formative assessment is a positively transformative process.

Popham recognizes the likely avenues and variations that will benefit student learning. Finally, he draws the correlation that formative assessment will lead to student improvement on external accountability tests.

Reviewed by Joseph W. Rudnicki, superintendent, Sunnyvale, Calif., School District