Recently, researchers have increasingly recognised the importance of formative assessment in improving children’s progress and attainment (Bone, 1999; Wiliam et al., 2004).
Although evidences provided in this work suggest that policies have underestimated the complexity of this kind of assessment- and that some teachers find it difficult to do- the benefits of formative assessment can far outweigh the disadvantages.
In its summative role, the purpose of assessment is to judge pupils’ quality and characteristics, summarising these in a clear and widely acceptable format.
Summative assessment is also known as assessment of learning (Threlfall, 2005; Arthur et al., 2006) and evidence for this type of assessment may come from formal testing of what has been learnt, aiming to produce marks or grades which may be used for different purposes, such as reports of various types (Pollard et al., 2008).
It thus differs from assessment designed primarily to serve the purposes of accountability, or of ranking, or of certifying competence’.
(Black et al., 2002, p.7) Furthermore, according to researches, some of the key elements of formative assessment include the identification by teachers and students of learning goals, intentions or outcomes and criteria for achievement; conversations, with feedback, between teachers and students that build on what is known and what is to be learned; active involvement of students in their own learning and also teachers responding to identified learning needs and strengths by modifying and/or adapting teaching strategies, materials and approaches (Stiggins, 1992; Stiggins and Conklin, 1992; Fontana and Fernandes, 1994; Fredrickson and White, 1997; Black and Wiliam, 1998a; Shepard, 2000; Boston, 2002; Guskey, 2003; Liang and Creasy, 2004).During my preliminary attachment I noticed that teachers were assessing all the time and some of those assessments were going on also during teaching.For example, while teaching, teachers picked up information about children’s knowledge through eavesdropping (where in group discussion, the teacher would stand by a table, but listening to the other table discussion instead) or questioning and they also assessed the level of understanding of the class through a quick quiz or game at the beginning or end of the lesson.Although may be argued that formative assessment has always been a central part of educational practice it was only in the late 1960s and 1970s that the term was invented (Black and Wiliam, 2003).Moreover, as a result of a growing international dissatisfaction with current forms of assessment, formative assessment was one of a number of ideas that attracted the attention of educational researchers (Bloom et al., 1971).From reflecting in examples from theory and practice, it is possible to say that assessment in education involves making judgements about pupils’ attainments (Alexander, 2010; Preliminary Attachment, 2010).In other words, it involves teachers deciding on how they will collect information, what information is relevant, how they will come to a judgement and then how to report and comment a judgment to those who want to know how pupils are achieving (Arthur et al., 2006; Aldgate et al., 2006; Hayes, 2006; Hughes, 2008).Those assessments have helped teachers to see what works and what does not in terms of student learning.However, they usually used this information to assess their own lesson and/or the level of knowledge and understanding of the class, rather than to make formal assessments which could be fed back to pupils (Preliminary Attachment, 2010).ASSESSMENT ‘ The assessment of children has to serve a variety of purpose, but it is principally to inform decisions made by the teacher about what work a child is capable of managing’.Hayes (2006) Assessment means different things in different contexts and it is also carried out for different purposes (Arthur et al., 2006).