What Is Formative Assessment?
When you think of assessment do you think of………
Marks and grades?
End of topic checks?
This kind of assessment is called SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT. It has a place in learning and teaching but it comes at the end a piece of teaching when it is often too late for the child make improvements, act on advice or change what has been done or learned.
FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT happens throughout the lesson or activity. It gives the learner the opportunity to improve as the lesson goes on and the teacher opportunity to adapt their teaching to address misunderstandings.
In Formative Assessment the children are actively engaged in their learning, making decisions and thinking reflectively.
Formative Assessment Strategies
Research has shown that children learn best when:
- they know what it is they are to learn and what they are expected to do,
- they are given feedback about their work and shown how to make it better and
- they are fully involved in making decisions about what to do next.
The following strategies used in our classrooms help children to understand more about how they learn.
Sharing Learning Intentions and Success Criteria
At the start of a lesson the teacher shares with the children whatthey are expected to learn, how they will learn and how they will know they have been successful. This is the key ingredient of successful ACTIVE learning.
Talking partners are used to enable children to explore questions and ideas and develop their thoughts and understanding through a short discussion with a partner. This ‘no hands up’ strategy gives everyone a chance to respond, reduces stress levels in children and enables them all to participate confidently in the lesson. Quiet children learn that they have a valuable contribution to make and are listened to and more forceful children learn to listen and take turns. Also, increasing the time we wait for a response gives more children an opportunity to actively engage in thinking about the question!
Research shows that children respond best to feedback when it relates directly to the information given at the start of the lesson e.g. what they are expected to learn and how they will know if they have been successful. Feedback comes from both the teacher and the pupil and is best given at a time when there is a chance to make changes and improvements – there and then.
For example, in maths it can be more valuable to review work with the children, allowing the children the chance to explain how they reached an answer. By doing this teachers learn quickly how well the lesson has been understood and what needs to be done to address misunderstanding. It may also be appropriate for children to mark some of their own work. With the learning intentions and success criteria shared children can give feedback on their own performance and that of others.
You may see a range of feedback strategies being used in your child’s work e.g.
- Two Stars and a Wish
The teacher, the children, working individually or with a partner use this strategy to identify two aspects of the work where success criteria have been met and one area for improvement and development.
- Tickled Pink and Green for Growth
Pink highlighting on a piece of work indicates success and green highlighting indicates an area that can be further
improved. Children and teachers can both use this strategy.
With all feedback teachers are focused on giving appropriate feedback. For example when learning to write a description, the feedback will be concentrated on the content of the description and not so much on handwriting, capital letters, full stops and spelling. These are, of course important aspects of writing but if they do not form the basis of the lesson being taught they will be revisited at a later date.
Self and Peer Assessment
Through their involvement in the strategies described in this leaflet, your child will learn how to assess their own work and the work of their classmates.
This is done sensitively and is demonstrated by the teacher, sometimes using examples of children’s work that meet the success criteria for the task set. This will help your child become confident that they are on the right track towards achieving the learning intention.