Formative Assessment of schools

 In my recent post about Entrepreneurs in Education I quoted from a new book about entrepreneurs in education which stated:

“One critical factor is making available more transparent, timely, and relevant information about student and school progress, which would enable educators, parents, and community leaders to make more informed decisions and set the stage for entrepreneurs to create new approaches and organizations based on need.” Educational Entrepreneurs.

This elicited a comment from from David Gilmour:

Educational Entrepreneurs.

“One way to improve information provision would be, where possible, to make it available in real-time, on-line and not via batch-processed paper reports. That way, there’s no need to “push” out stale, batch reports with all the work that involves: people can “pull” relevant information in a timely fashion – and act on it.”

I think David makes a really important point here. If we could move away from the “summative assessment” – which takes place at inspection, school evaluation or school review process – to more a a “formative assessment” where data is available “on tap” at any time and the idea of “preparing” for a visit becomes completely superfluous.  This kind of links into the discussion I had with Rick Segal about how the use of SELS and other “on tap” information could leave schools free to focus on improving learning and teaching and school improvement.

The only “however” I can see in this is the problem of convincing schools of the importance of collecting and recording reliable and valid information in way which wouldn’t be seen as being a stick to beat them with.