The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education

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Assessment for Learning

Please see below for an excerpt from the document Assessment for Learning that you can download here:

ECSWE Review of Current Practice

‘How is my child doing?’
Every teacher is familiar with the question and every parent has asked it. There are as many different ways of answering as there are children and the need for some kind of monitoring or assessment is a constant in any educational method or system. This we know as assessment of learning.

‘What should I do with them tomorrow?’
Every teacher is even more familiar with this question. We ask it at the end of every day, sometimes during the day, and sometimes even five minutes into a lesson! The methods we use to establish what we should be doing tomorrow we call assessment for learning.

‘And isn’t it all changing anyway?’
The world of assessment is changing in a number of ways.

  • The growing marketisation of education, with the advent of league tables, commercial competition between school and even performance related pay for teachers puts pressure on schools to measure aggressively, often ‘teaching to the test’, and planning their curricula and timetables at the expense of so-called softer skills, the arts, or value-led education: all harder to assess. Behind this is the underlying assumption within most, if not all state governments, that the primary role of education is the development of human capital as an economic asset.
  • Another influence is the international comparative dimension to standardised testing, and the increased focus on international evaluations such as the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). This has resulted in reform agendas and governmental priorities being determined by the political sensitivity to international league tables and competitive country comparisons.
  • The other force for change is the growing individualisation of education. This is reflected in the growing increase of ipsative (self) assessment and the use of personal portfolios to evidence learning. Innovations such as Dialogic Learning, the growing role of formative assessment, the acceptance of Life Long Learning almost as a human right and the advent of ‘portfolio careers’ with its associated need for flexible learning models all reflect a growing belief that the learner should have ownership of his or her learning and its assessment.

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