I have written before about assessment of learning, which is carried out for the purpose of grading and reporting. Research, however, has shown that one of the most powerful ways of improving learning and raising standards is through the use of assessment for learning.
The Assessment Reform Group (ARG) is responsible for bringing current research about assessment into education practice. They have brought the research about assessment for learning to the attention of the education community through the commisioned Black & William work, Inside the Black Box. According to the Assessment Reform Group (2002),
“Assessment for Learning is the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there.”
This is my three-point plan of action for ensuring that assessment for learning is embedded into a lesson:
1. Display and explain differentiated success criteria at the beginning of a lesson. I divide my success criteria into Must, Should & Could.
2. Encourage learners to reflect on their learning. Technology helps to facilitate this – in ICT/Computing lessons for example, I encourage my learners to regularly update their digital portfolios – not only in order to showcase their work, but also to use as a medium for reflection.
3. At the end of a lesson, I ask learners to “stick it where it counts”. Using the system of smiley faces pictured below, learners stick the relevant face to where they feel are are in terms of their understanding in a particular lesson. I can then take a photo of this AfL wall to use for my own records – at a glance, it’s easy to see how well a lesson has gone and how much of the content needs to be revisited. I often combine this apporach with questions during the plenary, asking students what they have learnt during the lesson and what their target is for the next lesson.