Assessment for Learning
In the executive summary from the University Research Review Successful Assessment for Learning Projects from AISI Cycle 3 (2011), assessment for learning is broadly defined as, “practices that emphasize more formative dimensions of assessment, tighter connections between learning outcomes and teaching activities, greater student involvement in self-assessment, increasing student independence and enhanced teacher responsibility for ensuring all students learn (p. 3).”
Several instructional strategies are associated with the use of assessment to support student learning. The literature indicates that when teachers and students have a clear and shared understanding of the expected learning outcomes, students are more likely to succeed. One approach to making outcomes and their criteria for success evident for students is the use of exemplars and rubrics. By reviewing work samples of varying levels of quality, students develop an understanding of the criteria for quality work and are better able to self assess, make revisions, and improve their work.
Another effective assessment for learning strategy involves an ongoing exchange of information between students and teachers about their progress towards learning outcomes. When the exchange is timely, connected to clearly established criteria, and in student-friendly language, the feedback is most effective.
Assessment for learning influences questioning skills, self-assessment, meta-cognition, efficacy, confidence and engagement. Such practices shape learning experiences for both teachers and students.
In Cycle 3 (2006 – 2009), over 51% of AISI projects identified assessment for learning as a central theme. The theme continues to be important in AISI Cycle 4 (2009 – 2012) with over 35% of AISI projects identifying it as a theme and over 60% incorporating assessment for learning instructional strategies in their AISI projects.
Learn more about Assessment for Learning from AISI Publications:
- Successful Assessment for Learning Projects from AISI Cycle 3 (2011)
- Authentic Assessment: Literature Review (2004)
Explore other Education and Government initiatives and resources:
- Making a Difference: Meeting Diverse Learning Needs with Differentiated Instruction, Chapter 4, Differentiated Assessment (2009)
Resources on Assessment for Learning from National Organizations:
- Alberta Assessment Consortium (AAC)
The AAC web site offers many resources to assist educators in the area of assessment for learning, including questions and answers, an assessment glossary, a multitude of assessment materials (for members only as well as materials in the public domain), professional publications, professional development opportunities, and literature and research.
- Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA)
Written specifically for a parent audience, this article highlights how new research into how the brain works and how students learn best has helped educators rethink the purpose of classroom assessment and how to make it more effective.
Classroom Assessment is Changing (2010)
- Canadian Education Association (CEA)
The publication Education Canada includes many articles on current educational research. Recent articles published on the theme of assessment include:
Formative Assessment: Bridging the Research-Practice Divide (2010)
- Connections Publishing
This website includes a number of online journal articles by Canadian author, Anne Davies, as well as links to chapters from her books, and practical resources for leaders and teachers. Assessment for Learning Online Resources for Educators
- Joint Advisory Committee
The Principles for Fair Student Assessment Practices for Education in Canada contains a set of principles and related guidelines generally accepted by professional organizations as indicative of fair assessment practice within the Canadian educational context. Assessments depend on professional judgment; the principles and related guidelines presented in this document identify the issues to consider in exercising this professional judgment and in striving for the fair and equitable assessment of all students.
Principles of Fair Student Assessment Practices for Education in Canada (1993)
- Manitoba Association of School Superintendents (MASS)
This position paper describes how student learning can be improved through research-based classroom practices. Research includes brain research, motivational theory and assessment for learning. The paper is organized into two parts: Assessment for and of Learning; Communication about Student Learning.
Building an Assessment Future with Purpose in Mind: Assessment for and of Learning (2007)
- Western and Northern Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Education
This online book focuses on the kind of assessment that best supports student learning. It is written for teachers and includes background information about assessment, a detailed description of three purposes of assessment, and concludes with examples of strategies, structures, and processes that can be used to embed and sustain purposeful classroom assessment. Copies are available in both French and English.
Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind (2006)
Resources on Assessment for Learning from International Organizations:
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
Free full text of articles published in Educational Leadership on the theme of Assessment is available on this site. Examples include:
When Students Track Their Progress (2009)
Multiple Measures (2009)
New Teacher's Guide to Better Assessment (2009)
Videos from authors Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey offer straightforward and practical information for teachers.
The Formative Assessment Action Plan (2011)
- Assessment is for Learning (AifL)
The AifL web site is hosted by Learning and Teaching Scotland, an organization that works with the Scottish Executive and education authorities to advance the national improvement agenda. It offers educator self-assessments, case studies, further reading lists, and a glossary, all of which are organized around key features of assessment for learning.
- Assessment Training Institute
Pearson Publishers provides many complimentary online resources on its web site. The following are examples of professional papers and articles about assessment:
Interim Benchmark Assessments: Are We Getting Our Eggs in the Right Basket? (2010)
Classroom Assessment for Student Learning (CASL) (2009)
- National Middle School Association (NMSA)
Full text free articles published in Middle Ground on the theme of Assessment are available on this site. Examples include:
Finding Balance: Assessment in the Middle School Classroom (2008)
Project-based Learning in Middle Grades Mathematics - Research Summary (2008)
- YouTube video, Sten House Publishers
In this video, Rick Wormeli offers advice on classroom assessment. He suggest that time spend designing formative assessment, particularly assessment that involves descriptive feedback, is well worth the effort. Three aspects of good descriptive feedback are outlined.
Rick Wormeli: Formative and Summative Assessment