A Case for Formative Assessment

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Innovations that include strengthening the practice of formative assessment produce significant and often substantial learning gains.
-Black and William, 1998b, p. 140

This conclusion from influential review of research by Black and Wiliam (1998a, 1998b) on formative assessment has changed the face of assessment in current education system. This comprehensive review emphasises the potential of assessment in raising standards i.e. assessment for learning (AfL). During research, it was found that pupils gain achievement when teachers rely on formative assessment/s. Another outcome from their study claims that certain formative assessment practices greatly increased the achievement of low-performing pupils.
Summative assessment can be defined as summary assessments of individual pupil performance including tests, examinations and end-of-year marks. It can be used for promotion, certification or admission to higher levels of education. In contrast, formative assessment draws on information gathered in assessment process to identify learning needs and hence adjusting teaching accordingly. Summative assessment is also referred as assessment of learning whereas formative assessment, as assessment for learning.
The reason for raised importance of assessment derives from the increasing realisation of the value of continuous assessment in informing teaching and improving learning. In this essay, a brief description of the main features, principles and strategies that underpin the concept of both types of assessment has been discussed. Findings about their impact and effect on teaching and learning are presented. In the earlier section of this paper, rationale of assessment of learning and assessmen...

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