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IN PRACTICE


If you have experienced any or all of these scenarios, then you are not alone. You, like countless other students over the years, have experienced being in a classroom with a teacher who does not follow the principles of Assessment FOR Learning, and it probably left you frustrated.


On the other hand, have you ever experienced anything similar to these scenarios?


• Your teacher lectured for a week and assessed you daily to make sure you understood the content.


• You had a big test scheduled for the following day and knew exactly what you needed to know for it because you had already been assessed many times on the same material.


• Your teacher taught your class how to use feedback from assessments to create personalized study guides that only included the information you had not yet mastered completely.


• You earned an “A” on a large unit test and received an “A” on your report card. While you had not done as well on the classwork and quizzes that led up to the test, those assessments were not averaged into your grade but instead were used by you to guide your learning.


If you experienced any of those scenarios then you had the privilege of being taught by a teacher who incorporated Assessment FOR Learning principles into his or her teaching methods, and you probably appreciated the way this teacher helped you master content that otherwise would have been difficult.


As we journey together to take a deeper look at Assessment FOR Learning, or AFL, it will become apparent that many of the very best teaching practices, the strategies that truly make the difference in how well students learn, will fall under the umbrella of AFL. In fact, if your school or division has been looking for a professional development topic that is worthy of a consistent long-term focus, that could lead to a collective and comprehensive overhaul of how your school educates its young people, that is relevant to each and every content area, and that will have an obvious and measurable impact on teaching and learning, then you need look no further than Assessment FOR Learning.


What is Assessment FOR Learning? Every journey needs a starting point, so let’s start at the beginning. What exactly is AFL? Assessment FOR Learning is simply another name for formative assessment. However, to many educators, the phrase formative assessment has somewhat of a clinical or overly-


Spring 2011 Vol. 8 No. 1 Virginia Educational Leadership 53


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