What is assessment for and as learning?

Although there are many resources for this topic, one of the best that I have seen is published by the Manitoba Government of Education, as it is well-written and provides several examples.  Assessment for learning is based on the principle that teachers use assessment “as an investigative tool to find out as much as they can about what their students know and can do, and what confusions, preconceptions, or gaps they might have” (Manitoba Education, 2006, p. 29).  Assessment as learning is based on learning being “an active process of cognitive restructuring that occurs when individuals interact with new ideas…[students] must make sense of information, relate it to prior knowledge, and use it for new learning” (Manitoba Education, 2006, p.41).  Both assessment for and as learning recognize the importance of the teacher understanding what preconceptions and experiences their students already have and using this knowledge to inform both their instruction and assessment. Assessment for and as learning is used through instruction as it is used to help teachers gather information about what prior knowledge and experiences their students have, determine the next steps in instruction and assessment, and provide feedback to students to help them in their learning and achievement.  Along with this process, teachers co-construct the learning goals and success criteria with students, provide detailed and timely feedback, use questioning for both instruction and assessment, and allow students to reflect using self- and peer-assessments. I’ll be providing a separate post on co-constructing learning goals and success criteria with students at a later time.

Here are some resources to help you:

Manitoba Education.  (2006)  “Rethinking Classroom assessment with Purpose in Mind” http://www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/assess/wncp/index.html
This is an excellent resources that provides a variety of examples of assessment tools that teachers can use in their classrooms.

eduGAINS.  AER Gains.  http://www.edugains.ca/newsite/aer2/index.html
This website has many informative video resources.  Lorna Earl provides excellent information and explanations on the topics of assessment for and as learning, learning goals, and success criteria.  Some of the videos are a bit long; however, they will provide you with a solid understanding of these concepts.

Moss, Connie M. & Susan M. Brookhart. Advancing Formative Assessment in Every Classroom: A Guide for Instructional Leaders. Alexandria: ASCD, 2009.
An excellent resource that every teacher should have as it helps you understand the concepts of big ideas, learning goals, and success criteria. The information provided will allow teachers to gain a clearer understanding of why assessment for and as learning is vital to student understanding and achievement.

Ontario Ministry of Education.  Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools. http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/growSuccess.pdf
This resource helps teachers understand how assessment for and as learning are used to improve student learning, provides essential steps for teachers to follow, and shows a comparison of assessment for and as learning versus diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment.


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