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AFL


time the summative assessment has been given it is usually too late for the student to do anything about his or her learning. The student gets the results back and now realizes what he or she should have done differently but can do little to nothing to change the result. Therefore, the summative assessment will have a negligible impact on learning.


Feedback from summative assessments also has a negligible impact on teaching since the teacher is done teaching the unit of study and more than likely does not have time to re- teach things that students did not master. Besides, many students have already mastered all of the content, so why would the teacher re-teach everything for the relatively few students who did not learn it the first time? Perhaps the teacher might use the results to improve next year’s instruction, but that does little good for the teaching of this year’s students.


On the other hand, the check-up is the educational equivalent of AFL. The check-up is all about helping the patient take control of his or her health in the same way that the AFL- based assessment is all about helping the student take control of his or her own learning. The AFL-based assessment enables the teacher to better focus instruction just as the check- up enables the doctor to better treat the patient.


Which would cause you to lead a healthier life, going to the doctor for a check-up once a decade or going to the doctor for a check-up twice a year? I have to make a confession. I do not floss my teeth as consistently I should. The week before the trip to the dentist I floss like a champ. Then, after the dentist checks out my teeth and gives me a new pack of floss, I floss religiously for several days before the consistency devolves into irregularity. If I had a check-up every week, I bet that I would have the cleanest teeth in the world. Regular medical feedback is good for one’s health.


The same is true with classroom assessments. If students are regularly assessed and trained to use that assessment feedback then they are better able and more likely to keep up with their learning. Refer back to the scenarios described at the beginning of this article. Remember that class in which content was “covered” for a period of time and then a summative test was given at the end? You probably remember how it felt to look at the test results and finally realize what the teacher had been talking about but at the same time realize that it was too late to do anything about it because the grade was in the grade book and the class was moving on. On the other hand, if that same teacher had assessed you daily while covering the content, then by the time the summative assessment came around you would have been better prepared.


56


Virginia Educational Leadership


Vol. 8 No. 1


Spring 2011


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