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                 Formative Assessment
                 in the Secondary Classroom

                                            by Shirley Clarke          
 
 

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  Other Books by The Author

   Enriching Feedback in the
   Primary Classroom: Oral  and Written
   Feedback from Teachers and Children

  
   Targeting Assessment in the Primary
   Classroom:  Strategies for Planning,
   Assessment, Pupil Feedback and
  Target Setting


   Unlocking Formative Assessment:
 
 Practical Strategies for Enhancing
   Pupils' Learning in the Primary
   Classroom

 
 




     

This highly practical guide focuses on learning objectives, effective questioning, self- and peer-assessment, and feedback as the key elements of formative assessment. Down to earth and direct, with many accounts from practicing teachers and examples from across the secondary curriculum, this text shows how formative assessment can bring a dramatic culture shift to teaching and learning in your own classroom.

 

 Item #530 
 2005  pb 176 pages  
 ISBN 0-340-88766-4   $25.00

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       TOP
    Introduction
    Contents
    Author Bio
  
 










































 

Introduction

Formative assessment is the process used by teachers
and
children to recognize and respond to pupil learning,
in order to
enhance that learning during the activity or
task.

                                (Cowie and Bell, 1999)

Formative Assessment, or 'Assessment for Learning', as it has
become known, has always existed, sometimes carried out automatically and instinctively by unknowing teachers. Today, it has a respected high profile in
UK schools and continues to be developed and explored by educators across all subjects and phases. Rather than being just another government initiative, formative assessment is about teachers being action researchers, taking a few research principles and experimenting with ways of putting them into action. Teachers are continually redefining these strategies, which evolve and develop over time.

As formative assessment has gained such a high profile, in the UK  especially, there are inevitable instances of it being  misinterpreted. Formative assessment is often seen as  using a variety of strategies to ascertain current knowledge  and understanding in order to then set targets for  improvement, as if the finding out and knowing what needs to be learned next is, in itself, formative. Although these actions are necessary, formative assessment happens after the finding out has taken place. It describes the complex process of furthering pupil learning during the learning  process, enabling the targets to be met or the quality  learning to happen.

 

In the early days of the National Curriculum, and still today, formative assessment was often defined, wrongly, as simply ongoing summative assessment. The following lists summarize the realities of summative and formative practices in secondary schools at this time.

Summative assessment (measuring attainment)

Current practice for summative assessment tends
to consist of the
following:

·          statutory Key Stage 3 tests

·          non-statutory 'optional' tests

·          external exams

·          commercially produced tests, if chosen by
    the school

·          school and class tests created by teachers

·          deciding Key Stage 3 Teacher Assessment levels

·          deciding grades: for one piece of work,
    the end of a unit, a
term or a year

·          entrance exams for colleges or universities

·          recall questions which establish
    current knowledge or
understanding

·          any assessment method which aims to
    establish whether
learning has taken place
    or a target has been met

·          any other data about student performance
    in the school.

Formative assessment (enabling  achievement)

Practice drawn from the research base tends to consist of the following:

·          clarifying learning objectives and success criteria at the
planning stage, as a framework for formative assessment
processes (Chapter 1);

·          sharing learning objectives and success criteria with students,
both long term and for individual lessons (Chapter 2);

·          appropriate and effective questioning which develops the learning rather than attempts to measure it
(Chapter 3);

·          focusing oral and written feedback, whether from teacher or student, around the development of learning objectives and meeting of targets (Chapter 5);

·          organizing targets so that students' achievement is based on previous achievement as well as aiming for the next step (ipsative referencing) (Chapter 5);

·          involving students in self- and peer evaluation
(Chapter 6);

·          raising students' self-efficacy and holding a belief that all students have the potential to learn and to achieve (throughout the book).

The current context for secondary schools

The National Curriculum, statutory testing and external tests and league tables present the same opportunities, pressures and problems for both primary and secondary schools. The secondary context is the focus of this book, so the following issues are acknowledged:

·          The pressures of meeting departmental/school
targets/performance management targets for external
examinations (SATs/GCSE) has made many teachers wary of
trying something different.

·          Subject coverage still dominates and many teachers see
formative assessment as something else to be fitted in.

 

 This has been the case for some primary teachers, but the high profile
 of formative assessment has encouraged teachers to look at what it
 really means. Doing formative assessment is about changing
 the way in which a lesson is constructed and managed, the
 culture
and ethos of the classroom and the quality of
 questioning and feedback. Most of all, it is about the
 involvement of students in the
learning process, beyond anything
 traditional teaching has previously allowed. The proven effect of
 teaching in this way is that students do BETTER at tests than
 before and become life-long
independent learners.

·          Since Curriculum 2000, there is more flexibility, but the
legacy of pressure to achieve coverage has left many teachers
wary of
using their professional judgment.

Many teachers knowingly sacrifice understanding for coverage. The 2004 OFSTED framework has one key focus: the achievement of students in relation to intended learning. Coverage and accountability have taken a back seat in pursuit of this ultimate evidence of effective teaching and learning.

·        Staff turnover is often high, so there is a constant need
 to train new staff with no extra time available.

An agreed formative assessment policy needs to define the principles and practice within the school. One or two days of shadowing another teacher seems to be the most effective way of helping a new teacher take on formative assessment.

·          It is difficult to keep one focus high on the whole school agenda, and difficult to create time to reflect. But if formative assessment is put on the back burner, impetus and enthusiasm
wane.

Once teachers really get going with formative assessment, they find the impact on student learning is so great, they can't go back to what they were doing before. However, it needs a 'champion' in a school for the first few years to keep it high profile.

·          It is difficult to monitor formative assessment across a
large school and difficult to create meeting times to
share good
practice and ideas.

See Chapter 7.

·          Many schools' assessment policies appear at odds
with
formative assessment and this is confusing for staff.
For
instance, many schools now use tracking systems
where numbers for effort/attainment/homework, etc, are recorded
and sent out to parents.

·          Teachers often do not have continuity in terms of the classes they teach. Every September they are often given an entirely different set of groups. These groups may have had very differing experiences of formative assessment, depending on who previously taught them.

  The whole school, therefore, has to be committed to formative assessment
  and develop an ethos in which it is respected and given
high profile. The key
  supporter must be the head.


                     
 Introduction Continues in the book
 

 
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    Introduction
    Contents
    Author Bio
  
 















 

Table of Contents:

Introduction 
1

Creating a learning culture in which formative
assessment can exist 
  11

The constructivist classroom. Multiple intelligences. Some important lessons from Japan. The social context of learning. Motivation and self-esteem. Conclusions. Key principles. INSET ideas.

Learning objectives and process                                             

success criteria   25

Balancing the curriculum. Implications of the taught specifics/applications model. Getting learning objectives right. The power of process success criteria. Quality. The impact of process success criteria. Sharing learning objectives with students: long- and short-term. Sharing learning objectives and success criteria during lessons. Differentiation. Key principles. INSET ideas.

Questioning   49

(a) Management strategies. (b) Framing the question. (c) Creating a supportive climate. Key principles. INSET ideas.

What matters about feedback    67

The impact of traditional feedback on student motivation and achievement. A closer look at grading. What we now know about effective feedback. Teachers' findings. In summary. Key principles. INSET ideas.


 

Quality feedback: practical implications  75

Creating a school feedback policy. Unravelling
the elements. Marking techniques. Comment-
only marking: the detail, (a) Making
improvements to the marked work, (b) Targets
over a period of time. One school's approach to
success and improvement marking. Key principles.
INSET ideas.

Self- and peer assessment  109

Self-assessment. Examples of enabling self-assessment. Peer assessment. Examples of enabling peer assessment. Overview: incorporating self- and peer assessment into lessons. Key principles. INSET ideas.

Monitoring   135

What assessment should be happening in the school? What should be monitored? How should it be monitored? Who monitors what? Effective observations. The teacher's perspective. Key principles. INSET ideas.


Using this book to make a  difference  1 50
Effecting change. Getting started with formative assessment: process success criteria for teachers!

References


 
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    Introduction
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Author Bio:

Shirley Clarke is an Associate of the Institute of Education, University of London, and is much in demand as an education consultant, in the UK and internationally.  Her course and training days for teachers, and ongoing involvement in action research, give her a down-to-earth perspective on day-to-day classroom realities.  Her books are acclaimed by teachers as highly readable and full of common sense.  She makes accessible a wealth of ideas, research and practical assessment expertise, giving teachers the ‘how to’ information they really need
.
 


 

 

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