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Here the author explores formative assessment within a context of research-based social studies instructional approaches. While the notions of inquiry, alternative assessment, disciplinary thinking and interpretation, and using visual documents as powerful resources each provide an important element of conceptual structure, this article purposefully concentrates on the process of constructive evaluation. The author posits a wise-practice routine for developing formative assessment practices that cohere with criteria-based assessment and its tendency to describe what students did well, what they could have done differently to improve their recent academic performance, and, importantly, how they can improve subsequent academic performance. The article also features methods for translating criteria-based grading into traditional reporting systems of point-values and letter grades. Finally, the author shares innovative examples of curriculum (i.e., assignments and a rubric) designed to help learners to develop the powerful skills of decoding, processing, and evaluating social studies information.