Some things to consider for effective assessment, by Mary Myatt

It is possible that assessment has become overcomplicated. Here are some things to consider:

First, to bear in mind that the main purpose of assessment is to support children’s learning – in other words, what have they done well and what do they need to do to improve.

Second, assessment should provide useful, meaningful insight for teachers about where the gaps in learning are, and what needs to be done to secure deeper learning. Much of this can take place during a lesson, through questioning and checking for understanding. Assessing children’s learning is more than checking what they have written.

Third, assessment should be able to make some dependable claims about a child’s learning. In other words, have they done more than complete a worksheet or have they had the chance to show what they know, understand and can do? This might be through their written work, or through the things they make and the way they talk about what they have learnt.

Fourth, it is helpful if assessment is linked to big ideas and concepts in the curriculum. This is backed up by Dylan Wiliam’s recommendation that in planning for assessment we should start with big ideas. How will these be taught to children and how will we know if they have understood them?

Fifth, we need to think carefully about targets – are these really stretching or are some of them placing limits on pupils’ learning?

And finally, we need to remember that we do not need to be ‘evidencing’ everything. So let’s select some key pieces which give us insight into the extent to which children have grasped what we have taught them.

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