Whilst Assessment for Learning has always been good practice in many schools recent research has led to a huge impetus to promote this using certain elements. It represents formative assessment at its best, involving pupils in their own learning. Much of the work on formative assessment in schools today stems from the research of the Assessment Reform Group. Two of their researchers in 1998 produced a book, 'Inside the Black Box'. The research looked at assessment that was taking place in classrooms concluded that using everyday formative assessment was the most powerful way of learning and that this learning had a definite impact on raising standards. Other researchers have developed this research. One of the most well known Shirley Clarke has worked with hundreds of schools and thousands of teachers to develop this in really practical ways in the classroom. Link to: www.shirleyclarke-education.org
The impact of this has also been recognised by QCDA: www.qcda.org.uk
"Assessment for Learning is the process of identifying what the learner has or has not achieved in order to plan the next steps in the teaching or learning" ( David Hargreaves QCA Conference 2001)
Many of our schools are already using the research which has proved valuable in raising standards in their schools. In Lancashire we are promoting this approach in our schools. This year we are offering three split two day courses to develop good practice. ( Check the courses on this site or your course brochure).We are also working with groups of schools via a consultancy and INSET to develop our own research."
Assessment for Learning recognises key principles which improve teaching and learning. These are...
· Sharing Learning Intentions ( or objectives)
Many schools already display the learning intention of the lesson. We are looking at how we can do this more effectively and how we use them during the lesson and in the plenary.
· Having Clear Success Criteria
This links directly into the learning intention but is separate from the lesson content or activity, relating more to the skills, concepts and knowledge of the activity.
· Feedback and Marking
Research into this area shows how disillusioned pupils are with many of the ways that their work is marked. Assessment for Learning strategies explore different methods of marking and feedback including oral, self marking and peer assessment.
" Teachers should be aware of the impact that comments, marks and grades can have on learners' confidence and enthusiasm and should be as constructive as possible in the feedback they give." ( Assessment Reform Group 2002)
· Effective Questioning
· Self Assessment
Ofsted recognises that where pupils have been encouraged 'to judge the success of their work' the greatest improvements are made. Formative assessment helps pupils to reflect on their own learning. Strategies to develop this have been trialled and improved. Specific guidance is now available through INSET using high quality research.
· Target Setting
This looks beyond statutory target setting which we are all familiar with . The focus is moved to using plans and lessons to set class, group and individual targets.
Other sites that you may find useful for Assessment for Learning
The Primary National Strategy (Excellence and Enjoyment: learning and teaching in the primary years) has recognised the importance of assment for learning. Many of the materials in it reflect the research of Shirley Clarke, Paul Black and other key researchers in assement for learning.The 'lunchbox' is available free from DfEs publications Tel: 0845 60 222 60. It includes a CD with Self evaluation grids, several booklets and videos - worth a look!