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Nature and Value of Formative Assessment for Learning

by Paul Black


The this paper has two foci. The first is to present an account of how we developed formative assessment practices with a group of 36 teachers. This is then complemented by a reflection on the productive and positive experience of these teachers, in the light of learning principles, of changes in the roles of teachers and pupils in the task of learning, and of effects on the self-esteem and motivation of pupils. Attention then shifts to the second focus, which is on the ways in which these teachers struggled with the interface between formative assessment and summative testing. The conclusion is that the potential of enhanced classroom assessment to raise standards may never be fully realised unless the regimes of assessment for the purposes of accountability and certification of pupils are reformed.

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