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Given that research indicates the critical nature of formative assessment in improving student achievement and success, why are many educators reluctant
to fully embrace formative assessment practices within their classrooms?


Formative Assessment:
helps students attain higher levels of performance (QCAA, 2014, p.3)
involves teachers making frequent, interactive assessments of student understanding, to
identify and respond to students learning needs (OECD, 2005 p.1)
involves teachers adjusting their teaching to meet individual student needs, and to better
help all students to reach high standards (OECD, 2005, p.1)
provides feedback that helps learners become aware of any gaps that exist between their
desired goal and their current knowledge, understanding or skill and guides them through
actions necessary to obtain the goal (Boston, 2002)
is particularly beneficial for enhancing the learning of low-achieving students and
students with learning disabilities (Black & Wiliam, 1998)
involves using a range of strategies to support and check student learning involving
students in processes of review and evaluation (Lynch & Knight, 2010, p.107)
builds students learning to learn skills by emphasizing and involving students in the
process of teaching and learning, and through peer- and self-assessment (OECD, 2005,
provides opportunities for students to self-assess in order to develop an understanding of
the main purposes of their learning and to grasp what they need to do to achieve (Black &
Wiliam, 1998)
is almost universally regarded as best practice (Waters, 2012, n.p.)
is the single most powerful tool we have for raising standards and empowering lifelong
learners (Assessment Reform Group, 1999)

Policy impacting practice:

Uniform standards for student performance and high-visibility external tests that hold schools
accountable for student achievement conflict with individualisation of learning implied in the
formative assessment model (OECD, 2005, p.2)
Government expenditure on summative assessment initiatives overshadows policy initiatives
promoting formative assessment (Holmes-Smith, 2005, p.106)
High-stakes external tests dominate teaching and provide poor overall summaries of
achievement rather than helpful diagnoses (Black & Wiliam, 1998)
Lack of coherence between assessments and evaluations at policy, school and classroom levels
(OECD, 2005, p.4)
Teachers impacting practice:
Teachers beliefs about the learning process and all students potential for learning can be
problematic in changing to a system of formative assessment (Black & Wiliam, 1998)
Fears that formative assessment is too resource-intensive and time-consuming to be practical
(OECD, 2005, p.2)
Belief that formative assessment is already happening and needs no more than formal
acknowledgement of its existence (Black & Wiliam, 1998)
Failure to utilise information gathered through formative assessment practices to adjust
teaching and learning to improve student learning (Waters, 2012)
Students impacting practice:
Some students resist attempts to change accustomed routines in learning and working methods
(Black & Wiliam, 1998)


Development of policy that focuses on teaching and learning, and promotes and supports the broader practice of formative assessment
Alignment of summative and formative assessment approaches, and use of information to benefit classroom, school and system levels
Investment in professional development (and initial teacher education)to better equip teachers to use formative assessment
Guidelines on effective teaching and formative assessment practices embedded in the national curriculum
Provision of tools and exemplars to support effective formative assessment
Actively involve students and parents in the formative process