Remote Learning and the Formative Assessment Process

The nature of remote learning is that there is more student autonomy—it is likely that students will participate with more independence when they are not located in the same space and/or instructional time as their teachers.

Distance learning relies on the formative assessment process for success because it helps teachers and students identify the gaps between where students are and where they need to be in order to determine next steps.

When students are engaged in remote learning, teachers need ways to identify, monitor, and support student learning at various times while in separate spaces. Using the formative assessment process, teachers and students can monitor and adjust learning together. The formative assessment process is essential for supporting effective distance learning.

The formative assessment process is used by teachers and students to provide actionable feedback to the learner, which is then used to adjust ongoing teaching and learning strategies to improve students’ attainment of curricular learning targets/goals.

The formative assessment process has four attributes:

  1. Clarify: determine what students will learn and how they will know they have learned it;
  2. Elicit: generate evidence of student learning, such as asking questions;
  3. Interpret: review evidence to determine students’ progress towards the learning goal(s); and
  4. Act: take instructional next steps to move students from where they are to where they need to be, such as re-teaching using a different mode.
Diagram of the formative assessment process, in the shape of clover, with each leaf pointing to the next with a blue arrow. From the top right leaf clockwise: Elicit, Interpret, Act, Clarify.

Remote Teaching and Learning Framework

The Remote Teaching and Learning Framework draws on research-based guidance to help educators adapt Tools for Teachers resources, as well as other curricular resources, to a remote learning context.

The framework is designed to help educators:

  • Understand the conditions for engaging students in remote learning. 
  • Consider how to prioritize learning for the remote context. 
  • Adapt instruction to the remote context. 
  • Use the formative assessment process in remote instruction to help students meet their learning goals.

The framework can be used as a reference resource along with other available resources to modify any Tools for Teachers resource for remote instruction. This professional learning resource provides step-by-step information about how to apply the framework to an existing resource. In addition, other supports are available including a blank template, modified sample Tools for Teachers resources, and a recorded webinar.

Supports for Formative Assessment

The following strategies can facilitate the use of the formative assessment process in distance learning.




Synchronous & Asynchronous
Synchronous & Asynchronous