formative assessment

Long-cycle formative assessment

Long-cycle formative assessment might typically take place at the end of an academic year when students complete an end of year examination or when nationally standardised tests take place.

Medium-cycle formative assessment

Although research studies (cited in this MESH Guide, for example) have shown that short-cycle formative assessment, when used effectively, can have a significant impact on learner outcomes, medium-cycle formative assessment (where evidence of student learning can be gathered across lessons and units of work) can also be beneficial.

According to Brookhart et al. (2019), medium-cycle formative assessment can involve quizzes or pre- or end of unit tests, for example, which cover a number of learning intentions. 

Why hasn’t formative assessment had the impact it promised?

Despite the wealth of research into and exemplification of good formative assessment practices, Booth (2017), in his article for England’s Chartered College of Teaching, cites some of the key reasons why, in England, formative assessment has not had the impact in schools it had promised.

First, we need to consider the definition issue. As the Assessment Reform Group have stated:

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

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:

From formative evaluation to formative assessment

It is widely accepted that Scriven was the first to use the term “formative” where its role was to evaluate the ‘on-going improvement of the curriculum’ (Scriven, 1967: 41). Two years later, Bloom applied Scriven’s definition to classroom-based testing: 

Subscribe to RSS - formative assessment