Formative assessment

This page contains information on formative assessment and the Formative Assessment in the Year Before School Project.

Formative assessment refers to educators’ collection of formal or informal information during children’s learning experiences to inform teaching strategies and learning experiences for improved learning outcomes.

Formative assessment is an ongoing and integral part of the assessment and planning cycle used by teachers and educators in their everyday practice under the National Quality Standard, Quality Area 1 (Standard 1.3), and the Early Years Learning Framework V2.0.

It is important that teachers and educators understand effective formative assessment and how to implement it in their context.

Benefits of formative assessment tools

Formative assessment tools support teachers and educators to implement the assessment and planning cycle by providing a framework to:

  • understand, interpret and document a child’s learning, wellbeing and development
  • inform pedagogy and practice
  • support the development, implementation and evaluation of educational programs.

Formative assessment tools can be used throughout the year to complement teacher and educators’ existing practices.

Formative assessment can document the different pathways that children take in their learning journeys and make their own learning and development visible to them. Rich and meaningful information can be documented that depicts children’s learning in context, having their voices heard, their beliefs understood and valued; their sense of self affirmed and knowing more about themselves.

Formative assessment can support the inclusion of parents and carers in the assessment and planning cycle, providing them with opportunities to reflect on and share information with teachers and educators about their child’s learning and development.

Formative Assessment in the Year Before School Project

In 2024, the NSW Department of Education is working with eligible early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to explore the use of formative assessment tools to understand how they may be used in NSW.

The project will inform the department’s approach to the 2025 national trial of the Preschool Outcomes Measure, which is a key reform of the Preschool Reform Agreement. This includes determining a formative assessment tool that complements existing teaching and learning practices in NSW ECEC services to support all children’s learning, development and wellbeing outcomes.

To participate, approved services must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the project guidelines.

Services who are selected to be part of the project will be allocated formative assessment tools to explore in their service and will receive professional learning and up to $8,000.

For more information on the formative assessment in the year before school project, including financial support, read the project guidelines.


  • Early childhood education

Business Unit:

  • Early Childhood Outcomes
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