Formative Moments

Mary Peters, Senior Director of Powerful Practices at Battelle for Kids, spoke this week at the Ohio Annual Statewide Education Conference. Mary led sessions on Collecting Evidence of Student Learning and Providing Effective Feedback that Impacts Professional Growth. You can read the feedback and insight of attendees by following #ohFIP on Twitter.


I remember when the Beatles came to America; I was 9 years old. I also remember when Motown was all the rage; I was 12.  I remember when I first got hooked on FIP.  Believe it or not, I was 20.  And after all of these years—I am still hooked. You probably don’t believe me because FIP feels like a new initiative. But is it really new?

As a speech pathology undergrad in the late seventies, I was immersed early into a clinical setting where diagnostic assessments were used to identify the nature of a speech and language impairment. I was observed through a two-way mirror by master clinicians who provided me with immediate feedback about my assessment administration, analysis skills, and response to the data. As a result, I learned to be a better observer of the effects of my own actions—or lack thereof—on my young students. 

But I had a longer learning journey in store. I moved into special education where I learned about learning targets (or as we called them, behavioral objectives). I created learning progressions (or as we called them ‘task analyses’). I learned about collecting data and adjusting my instruction accordingly. I involved my students in gauging their own progress, helped them provide feedback to each other, and continually worked on improving the effectiveness of the feedback that I was providing.

Sounds like FIP, right? That’s because what I learned when disco was still hot was and remains at the core of what FIP is—good instruction inextricably connected to ongoing, formative assessment. FIP is not a new initiative. It is an orientation to teaching and learning. Although I didn’t have a name for what I was doing way back then, I knew I was doing the right things with and for my students. FIP Your School provides teachers what I wish I had—the context and tools I needed to get better at it. 

Fortunately, the impact that formative instructional practices has made has lasted longer than my collection of vinyls.