Assessment: formative and classroom-based

Nikki Booth | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Differences between formative assessment and Assessment for Learning (AfL)

Although in academic literature both formative assessment and Assessment for Learning (AfL)are used synonymously, it is important to note that, for some, the two terms do actually differ. For example, Wiliam (2018c) states that:

Paul Black and I have always used the term “formative assessment”, but the government adopted the term “Assessment for Learning”. It's a very attractive way of looking at it because we have “Assessment of Learning” bad, Assessment for Learning, good. It’s very easy to contrast those two things. The problem is that Assessment for Learning focuses on the intention rather than the action. It says “I’m collecting this information in order to…” and I go into classrooms and I see lots of formative intention, but I see very little formative action. I see very little use of that evidence actually to make a difference. Now, the word “formative” to me has a very clear etymology; formative experiences are the experiences that shaped us as individuals. In the same way, I think formative assessment should be assessment that actually shapes learning.