Short-cycle formative assessment framework

Leahy et al., (2005) (cited in Wiliam and Leahy, 2015: 11) provide a useful framework (shown in the table below) which crosses three phases (where the learner is going, where the learner currently is, and how to get there) with three types of classroom-based agents (teacher, peer, and learner).


Where the learner is going

Where the learner currently is

How to get there


Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success

Engineering effective discussions, tasks, and activities that elicits quality evidence of learning

Providing feedback that moves learning forward


Activating students as learning resources for one another (peer-assessment)


Activating students as owners of their own learning (self-assessment)


In Wiliam and Leahy’s words:

Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions – deals with the joint responsibility of teachers, the learners themselves, and their peers to break this down into a number of criteria for success. The second strategy deals with the teacher’s role in finding out where learners are in their learning, once [they are] clear about the learning intentions (this sequence is deliberate – until you know what you want your students to learn, you do not know what evidence to collect). The third strategy emphasizes the teacher’s role in providing feedback to the students that tells them not only where they are but also what steps they need to take to move their learning forward. The fourth strategy emphasizes the role that peer assessment can play in supporting student learning and also makes clear that the purpose of peer assessment within a formative assessment framework is not to judge the work of a peer so much as to improve it. Finally, the fifth strategy emphasizes that the ultimate goal is always to produce independent learners (2015: 11).

These key formative assessment strategies are unpicked further in section 4 “Pedagogical Interventions”.