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What are the characteristics of good practice?

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 21 May 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 07 September 2011 by ncetm_administrator


What does formative assessment look like in practice?

In this strand you will consider the characteristics of effective formative assessment practice and how children can become more involved in the process of learning through understanding what they are learning and taking part in assessing their own learning.
When you have completed this strand you will:

  • know the characteristics of effective assessment for learning;
  • be able to monitor how far those characteristics are embedded in your school;
  • know how to help pupils understand what they are learning in mathematics;
  • know how to frame learning intentions and success criteria that help pupils to guide their own learning without constraining the lesson;
  • understand the principles of good feedback;
  • be able to involve the children in the process of using assessment for learning.

What are the characteristics of good practice?

Over a long period of time, Professor Dylan Wiliam's principal area of interest and research has been formative assessment. In particular the professional development of teachers in gathering evidence of student learning and adapting teaching in response to this has been central to his work. Dylan states that there are five essential characteristics of good practice in formative assessment.

Teachers must:
find out systematically where the students are in their learning;
provide feedback that moves the student’s learning forward;
make sure that students understand what success looks like;
activate students as learning resources for one another – using not just peer-assessment but also collaborative learning and reciprocal teaching;
activate students as owners of their own learning – not just using self-assessment but also developing their ability to manage their emotional response to feedback and their resilience and to use meta cognition.

Listen to Dylan talk about five key Assessment for Learning strategies, and other thoughts on AfL.

Download the latest version of Adobe Flash to listen to this resource.

As subject leader it is part of your role to both monitor that these characteristics are present in other people’s practice, and exemplify them in your own practice. Reflect on what Dylan says that you are you looking for in each of these areas:
  • how evident is that in your own practice?
  • how well do you think it is established in the school?

If you would like to explore this area further then read the Dig Deeper paper Assessment for Learning to discover ideas in all the characteristics of effective practice.

Record your thoughts in your Personal Learning Space.

Monitoring good practice in Assessment for Learning (AfL)

For each of the characteristics of effective practice in formative assessment consider what you might look for in order to monitor that they are in place in lessons in your school. Check your answers against the suggestions in this table.







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