Assessment for Learning
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Key questions

What is Assessment for Learning?

Assessment Reform Group (UK 2002):
Assessment for Learning is the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there.

Assessment for Learning is also known as formative assessment.

What is the difference between formative and summative assessment?

Activities associated with summative assessment (Assessment of Learning) result in an evaluation of student achievement - for example, allocation to a level or standard or allocation of a letter or numerical grade, which might later appear in a report.

Activities associated with formative assessment (Assessment for Learning) do not result in an evaluation. Information about what a student knows, understands and is able to do is used by both the teacher and the learner to determine where learners are in their learning and how to achieve learning goals.

What are Assessment for Learning strategies?

Research has identified a number of classroom strategies that are particularly effective in promoting formative assessment practice.

Assessment for Learning strategies are:

  • the strategic use of questioning
    Questioning is used not only as a pedagogical tool but also as a deliberate way for the teacher to find out what students know, understand and are able to do.
  • effective teacher feedback
    Effective teacher feedback focuses on established success criteria and tells the students what they have achieved and where they need to improve. Importantly, the feedback provides specific suggestions about how that improvement might be achieved.
  • peer feedback
    Peer feedback occurs when a student uses established success criteria to tell another student what they have achieved and where improvement is necessary. Again, the feedback provides specific suggestions to help achieve improvement.
  • student self-assessment
    Student self-assessment encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning. It incorporates self-monitoring, self-assessment and self-evaluation.
  • the formative use of summative assessment
    Summative assessment is a necessary aspect of education. Formative use can be made of summative assessment, both before and after the assessment event.

Click on the names of the strategies to access the professional learning modules.