The practice of assessment in the primary classroom has come a long way. With the rise of assessment for learning, assessment is used as a continual tool to understand pupils learning and where their gaps are and how to move them on. Continuing reading in Chapter 7 of Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers, he moves on to talk about ‘Rapid Formative Assessment’. Research that he refers to highlights the effectiveness of assessment that is done during the lesson, catching children at integral points of their learning to help them progress and move on.
Evidence stems from the work done by Black and William (1998) Inside the Black Box, when the rise of AFL really came about. From this we began to see success criteria, children being taught to self and peer assess each other’s work and assessment really as a tool to drive the learning of every pupil in class. 1998 was 18 years ago. You would think that these strategies would now be firmly established in every school across the country. But, no. Why is this? Why has it taken so long for teachers to begin using assessment as a key driver in pupil progress and achievement, not merely as a tool to find a ‘level’ of a child when required?
Now with the disappearance of levels, perhaps all schools will begin researching and trialing the most effective ways of assessing their pupils progress. The release of the Commission Report was one step closer to schools finding what works best for them, but having talked to other headteachers it seems that many schools have just jumped on board with ready-made systems that again will prove to only be pulled out at the end of each term when teachers and schools are required to report on pupil attainment and progress. The move to ‘no levels’ has been the perfect opportunity to run with the notion of ‘rapid assessment’ using purposeful assessment to drive learning and teaching within the classroom. It has provided an opportunity for us to re-think how we teach and really understand what will allow our pupils to achieve their full potential.
This means that we must adapt and change. Schools and the people within them must learn to be flexible, must learn to constantly adjust their practice to provide the best for each child in their classroom. Every child is unique and will learn in different ways and at different paces. It is up to us to assess these situations to always provide what is needed in a quick and timely manner. Therefore, assessment for learning within every lesson is vital to truly interpret the key blockers and movers for the children in your classroom. Employing the strategies to empower your pupils to continue to ‘learn’ is essential for them to continue to make good progress. Assessing them throughout the learning process enables teachers to quickly act, providing them with the tools necessary to continue to move forwards.
What does assessment look like in your school? Is is part of everyday learning?