Formative assessment is often referred to synonymously with Assessment for Learning (AfL). However, AfL refers specifically to the collection of approaches and techniques associated with the practice of formative assessment.
AfL involves the feedback loop of teachers gathering evidence about pupils’ learning by:
- discussing; and
- reviewing their work in progress.
It’s often immediate and intended to inform changes the teacher can make to the sequence of instruction so that their lessons are more effective. At the same time, teachers provide feedback to the pupils to identify progress and gaps in learning (including individual support needs).
Assessment for Learning takes place during day-to-day classroom practice and while pupils are engaged in learning. It also gives pupils an active role in the assessment process. Pupils work with the teacher to determine what is being learned and to identify the next steps.
Both parties then use the feedback to improve the learning. The feedback includes information on:
- how the pupils are learning;
- their progress;
- the nature of their understanding; and
- the difficulties they are having.
In Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam’s study Inside the Black Box, they explain assessment is only formative when:
- it is an integral part of the learning and teaching process; and
- assessment evidence is actually used to:
- modify teaching to meet the needs of pupils; and
- improve learning.
Assessment for Learning: A Practical Guide
Assessment for Learning: A Practical Guide illustrates how schools can use formative assessment approaches to promote learning, develop understanding and enhance practice. It’s a practical guide for teachers and senior management who are initiating, consolidating or embedding AfL practice in schools.
Assessment for Learning for Key Stages 1&2 / Assessment for Learning for Key Stage 3
Assessment for Learning Sample Parent leaflet
This leaflet explains the concepts of Assessment for Learning, how it is developed and delivered in the classroom and what parents can do to support their child’s progress.