Australia’s national education evidence body
Gathering and interpreting information to progress student learning


Formative assessment is the practice of gathering and interpreting information about student learning as it is happening in your classroom. It can involve a variety of methods. Using formative assessment helps you know where students are at in their learning so that you can adapt your teaching to meet their needs. 

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Formative assessment is related to ‘Focus Area 5.1: Assess student learning’ and 'Focus Area 1.2 Understand how students learn’ in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Why formative assessment works

Understanding the science behind learning and memory can help teachers understand why formative assessment is an effective teaching technique. An ongoing cycle of formative assessment supports both the correction and strengthening of new learning.

Formative assessment is effective across a variety of contexts 

To understand whether formative assessment is effective across different contexts, AERO conducted a review of 138 studies. The review found that formative assessment is an effective teaching practice across a variety of contexts and for different subgroups of students. Studies conducted across various locations suggest that formative assessment: 

  • has a positive impact on student achievement in mathematics, reading, writing, social science and foreign languages 

  • works for primary and secondary students 

  • benefits students with and without additional learning needs. 

Because of this, formative assessment is likely to work in most contexts.  


Formative assessment has a strong evidence base that meets our highest standards of evidence. For more information about the evidence base, see below:

Tried and Tested practice guide

This guide outlines evidence-based practices for applying formative assessment in the classroom.

Annotated reference list

An overview of the research evidence cited throughout our formative assessment resources.

Using the practice

To be effective, formative assessment needs to be implemented well. See below some ‘things to know’ when using the practice. 

Snapshots of practice

Formative assessment may look different in different contexts. See below examples of formative assessment in a variety of classrooms and settings.

Example of practice

Use this example of practice to think about how to use formative assessment in your own context.

Formative assessment at Walford Anglican School for Girls

 Kerri Proctor, Head of English at Walford Anglican School for Girls, uses different formative assessment methods to track student progress. 

Implementation tools

Here you will find tools to help you implement formative assessment in your classroom or setting.

Formative assessment rubric

A rubric outlining a set of capabilities to do with formative assessment, designed to help you or your team break down the practice into steps.

Implementation checklist

Practical steps you can take to support the use of formative assessment in your setting.

Free high-quality curriculum resources

AERO has partnered with Ochre Education to provide Australian teachers free access to hundreds of high-quality curriculum resources to help drive excellence and equity in educational outcomes.
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