‘all those activities undertaken by teachers, and by their students in assessing themselves, which provide information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged. Such assessment becomes ‘formative assessment’ when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching work to meet the needs ’ (Black & Williams, 1998, p2).
Breaking down formative assessment
‘...I think there probably needs to be a little more scope for teachers to actually use their own forms of assessment to have room for individuality, because I think if teachers are allowed to use assessment they find works for them, they will actually make use of the assessment, because they know it is relevant to the way they plan and the way they operate in the classroom.’ (Teacher#6, p.17, SET 2, 2003)
For teachers, data can be collected through:
• questions and
• samples of work that are happening as you teach. These can give you so much information about a child’s understanding without formal testing.
What are you looking for? What information will the children be showing you? Well, you want to know if the child can do the following three things:
• understand and be able to describe what they are learning
• understand and be able to describe where they are
• understand and be able to describe what they need to do to close the gap in their understanding.
So the big question is: do you really know enough about your children’s understanding to be able to help each of them? What information do you need to be absolutely clear about, so that you can gather the data you need AS YOU TEACH! You need to
• Be really clear about what you’re teaching – learning intention/success criteria
• Ensure that students are clear about what they are learning
• Make a plan about how you will collect information about children’s knowledge - what opportunities have you made for the children to show and talk about their understanding.
If you would like further advice or discussion on Formative Assessment please contact NZCER's Education Adviser - Cathie Johnson
Phone (04) 802 1386 or email firstname.lastname@example.org