Dylan Wiliam: Formative Assessment

Our federation senior leadership team heard an excellent talk Assessment for Learning 2011 – Dylan Wiliam @ Schools Network Conference today from Professor Dylan Wiliam on what the state of play is for formative assessment. We were significantly encouraged to hear that much our of our practice is at the cutting edge of Dylan’s message. Not least because the Kagan Co-operative Learning Structures facilitate a huge amount of learner to learner assessment for learning. He stated that the focus on assessment was a misunderstanding, but that we should understand assessment as a fundamental element of teaching. Within this feedback is crucial and feedback should:

    • Cause thinking
    • Provide guidance on how to improve
    • Use comment only marking
    • Have focused marking
    • Everybody gets the same amount of work from feedback
    • Make use of explicit reference to mark schemes
    • Feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor
        • e.g. ‘5 of these are wrong, you find them’
    • Response should be required to feedback
    • Re-timing assessment – decision driven data collection
        • How do I wrap up this topic? Find out what learning is secure and tailor the last few lessons to address the gaps




3 thoughts on “Dylan Wiliam: Formative Assessment

  1. This is good to hear. From the outside it can appear that assessment in schools is for administrative/league table purposes only, rather than to also aid an individual’s learning.

    In higher education I have come across many who only see assessment as a way of seeing if the student is ‘good enough’ which is sometimes a cover for assessment as a means of showing that the lecturer is ‘better’ than the student.

    Another misconception is that giving formative feedback is cheating rather than teaching. My personal belief is that we don’t have enough teaching time in HE for assessment not to be used as part of the learning process; is this the same in primary education? Formative assessment and feedback is a way for me to personalise my teaching to an individual student’s learning needs.

  2. Great stuff. It’s such a shame that so many people in schools haven’t read the TGAT report,

    My analogy is that of doctors – they know what treatment they’re giving, but it’s only by observing the outcomes that they can deduce or infer what’s going on inside, and as a result increase or change treatment. Each clue leads to a more detailed diagnosis, and more specific intervention.
    The real skill is in generating informative outcomes, from which to form hypotheses. This is what Kagan and similar approaches enables teachers to do – listening to children discuss their ideas, challenge each other and come to agreement.

    The “Levels” were never intended to be (ab)used in the way that they are. It gives a whole new perspective on Emperor’s new clothes.

    Glad I found the blog!


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