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Formative Assessment as a Process of Interaction Through Language

  • Ruiz-Primo M
  • Solano-Flores G
  • Li M
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This chapter addresses equity and the need for research on formative assessment in the multilingual classroom. Since formative assessment has been investigated primarily with mainstream students, the extent to which findings can be generalized to culturally and linguistically diverse populations is uncertain. We focus on English language learners (ELLs)–students who are developing English as a second language while they are still developing their first language in a predominantly English-speaking school system. We present a conceptual framework on formative assessment in the multilingual classroom. According to the framework, social interaction through language underlies the four activities that compose a formative assessment event—clarifying learning goals/expectations, collecting information, analyzing and interpreting information collected and acting upon the information collected. In order for ELLs to benefit from formative assessment in the same way as their non-ELL counterparts do, their teachers need to address, for each of these four activities, four language and engagement dimensions: participation, cognitive demands, academic language and semiotic modalities. A 4 × 4 matrix, defined by the four formative assessment activities and the four language and engagement dimensions, specifies the domain of formative assessment skills in the multilingual classroom. Based on this domain specification, we are able to evaluate the extent to which teachers’ formative assessment practices address the needs of their ELL students.




Ruiz-Primo, M. A., Solano-Flores, G., & Li, M. (2014). Formative Assessment as a Process of Interaction Through Language (pp. 265–282).

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