Assessment for Learning: Putting It into Practice

Assessment for Learning: Putting It into Practice

Assessment for Learning: Putting It into Practice

Assessment for Learning: Putting It into Practice


"This is a surprising and welcome book... a heartening read that shows the power of assessment for learning and the potential for academics and teachers jointly to put into practice ideas that can improve classroom learning and teaching."

The starting point of this book was the realisation that research studies worldwide provide hard evidence that development of formative assessment raises students' test scores. The significant improvement in the achievements of the students in this project confirms this research, while providing teachers, teacher trainers, school heads and others leaders with ideas and advice for improving formative assessment in the classroom.

Assessment for Learning is based on a two-year project involving thirty-six teachers in schools in Medway and Oxfordshire. After a brief review of the research background and of the project itself, successive chapters describe the specific practices which teachers found fruitful and the underlying ideas about learning that these developments illustrate. Later chapters discuss the problems that teachers encountered when implementing the new practices in their classroom and give guidance for school management and LEAs about promoting and supporting the changes.

This book offers valuable insights into assessment for learning as teachers describe in their own words how they turned the ideas into practical action in their schools.


This book is about changes in teachers' classroom practice that can make teaching and learning more effective. To be useful, such a book should be both practical, in giving concrete details and examples of classroom work, and principled, in giving a basis in both evidence and theory to underpin the practicalities. The authors of this book worked in a university and can lay claim to expertise in the areas of evidence and theory. The practical and concrete they have learnt in work with teachers, and the experiences, the evidence and the writing of these teachers is an important source for the work. So we are confident that teachers will benefit from taking our message seriously.

What is proposed?

What is proposed concerns assessment. This is not a simple or innocent term. Many take it to include all forms of testing. With this broad meaning, assessment can be seen to serve a range of purposes. One is to provide numerical results to publish in league tables - that is, the purpose is to help make schools accountable. Since this book is not concerned with assessments made for this purpose, we shall not discuss the controversies about the whole process (Black 1998; Wiliam 2001).

A second purpose is to provide students with certificates, such as GCSEs. The idea here is to give information about the students which they themselves, prospective employers and those controlling admission to further stages of education can use to make choices. This purpose calls for assessment methods which can be reliable, in that they are comparable across different schools, and indeed across the country as a whole, and also valid in that they give the users what they really need to know about each student. These are exacting requirements, but again assessments made for this purpose are not the main focus of this book.

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