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Formative assessment The TGAT (1987) stressed that the formative nature of assessment for both learners and teachers assessment should be an integral part of the educational process, continually providing both feedback and feedforward. It recommended that formative assessment should be the basis of national assessment. TGAT also recommended a range of tools for testing including practical tasks and observations and thought that the national assessment system should be based on a combination of moderated teachers ratings and standardized assessment tasks. These measures were designed to minimize curriculum distortion and negative washback, ensure validity and enable assessment of areas which pencil and paper cannot reach. However, it proved practically difficult for teachers to implement some of the complex tasks such as the well known floating and sinking task. This put a burden on teachers. Therefore, it is very helpful to slimmed down the curriculum. Over time, greater emphasis was put on test and test results came to be seen as more rigorous and teacher assessment stopped being reported in the media. Strategies such as assessment for learning are now being promoted and the Assessment Reform Group is looking at the potential of formative assessment to be use as effective assessment tool and how formative assessment information can be used for summative purposes. Critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, metacognition, motivation and intellectual risk taking are several skills or traits frequently classified as 21st century skills. A recent review of the educational and psychological research literature connected to these 21st century skills suggest a set of general design principles that best support their assessment: (a) incorporating multiple measure to permit triangulation of inferences, (b) designing tasks of sufficient challenge or cognitive complexity, (c) including open-ended or ill-structured tasks, (d) embedding tasks in authentic, real-world contexts, (e) making student thinking and reasoning visible and (f) exploring innovative assessment approaches that incorporate technology and nontraditional psychometric models (Lai & Viering 2012) There is considerable evidence that teachers are getting better at teaching pupils to pass exams and this could account for some of the improvement in attainment over time. If it is certain that the assessments are reliably and validly testing what is important then it is not necessarily a bad thing for the teacher and the curriculum to be driven by assessment. However, short-term gains may also be partially a reflection of too much focus on certain activities such as memorisation, question spotting and excessive test practice which can be detrimental to teaching and learning Some evidence suggests that summative assessment of pupils can have different effects on pupils motivation depending on their ability. The gap between high and low attainers could be exacerbated by testing as low attainment can reduce self-esteem and contribute to low results in the future. There is also evidence that pupils who do well in subjects which are not tested have a lower opinion of themselves in highstakes systems. So-called high stakes testing also causes considerable anxiety among pupils and teachers. Use of assessment for high stakes accountability measures such as league tables and evaluating teacher performance can detract from the central purpose of assessment. One of the primary

functions of assessment is to advance teaching and learning and hence support pupils progression. We should be looking at separating out functions of assessment. Instruments for assessing individual students to inform their learning should not be used for monitoring national standards over time and calling to account teachers and schools. According to Black (2011), formative assessment is assessment which aids learning, either directly to the pupils or indirectly through the teacher modifying teaching in order to cater adequately to the pupils identified need. Feedback is the key principle of formative assessment. Teachers must also modify their teaching accordingly and this is professionally challenging. Such assessment can vary in the time taken, from an immediate response to a question, to a feedback review after a test held near, not at, the end of the course or topic. Eventhough, the Government has the role of defining the shape of future society and therefore has an interest in defining the overall vision and aims but it is the educators who need to design the details of the curriculum, as these are the people who have the expertise here. A key vehicle for realising aims in educational institution is its whole education processes. As for the timetabled curriculum, discrete academic subjects may not be the only or best way of promoting these aims, but we have to work with what we have at present. Subjects should be seen as servants of overall aims and pressure and incentives are needed to bring them into line with these. A main purpose of assessment is to help learners to learn, as well as monitoring how well they are doing. In an aims-based system, assessment should focus on wider aims as well as more specific realisations of these. So it should look at learners personal qualities as well as more specific knowledge achievements. The assessment system should itself be in line with the overall aims of the curriculum. This is something which does not always happen at the moment. For instance, the aim that learners enjoy learning and wish to continue learning is at odds with assessment systems that generate anxiety and disaffection in many learners. The curriculum needs to reflect what we want young people to be able to do and should be aimsled rather then subject-led. The balance between academic components and other qualities of themselves as humans needs to be addressed. Qualities such as interpersonal skills, communication, creativity and citizenship need to be more central in the curriculum. The focus must be on the aims first rather than the subjects. ATL recommends a light framework of skills which would be set nationally, setting out the skills and attitudes which pupils need now and in the future for employment, caring roles and citizenship. These should be generic skills, rather than an attempt to second guess the actual skills which will be required, for example, by employers. ATL believes that there is a universal set of skills needed by all young people Generally teachers are fearful of doing things differently under the current structure and feel constrained by the curriculum and its associated assessment system. Teachers are working to mould complex individuals to be global citizens but they need to force them through a narrow, uniform tunnel to get there. Curriculum is the vehicle used to drive the pupil toward the final aim and assessment should be the process.

The core of the curriculum should be led by the aims that need to be achieved in society. Values, globalization and citizenship should be considered the drivers, rather than subjects. Along side the curriculum, assessment tools which can be used to assess the aims of the curriculum, ranging from skills and competencies through to content need to be developed and made readily available Although the curriculum must involve both competencies and content, the balance needs to be shifted back towards competencies as these have not been the focus for a long time. Content and skills should be equal. In addition to the aims this requires thought around what constitutes good learning and the importance of teaching understanding rather than teaching to the test. Learners who are taught understanding generally do better than those who have been taught to the test. Learners also need to develop confidence in their capacity to learn. Many organisations are working to get the best out of the current education system. Those educational institutions are brave enough to use the flexibilities available to them to do something creative despite the current constraints of a test-heavy system dominated by narrow attainment targets and league tables. However for innovation to drive forward standards across all educational institutions there needs to be changes to the underlying structure of the system. Educational institutions need to progress from a situation where assessment tends to dominate curriculum and pedagogy toward a situation where there is a positive creative tension between all three. Halpern (2004) states that student assessment provides evidence regarding mastery of knowledge and skills, and the results may be used to improve their performance as well as assign grades. A similar rationale for using a thoughtful approach to program assessment is that faculty need program assessment data to improve teaching, make program modifications, and provide evidence to various constituenciesadministrators, alumni, legislatures, stateboards of education, parents, prospective students, voters, accrediting organizations, and othersregarding the programs success. An ideal campus climate for assessment is one in which there are clear administrative expectations for assessment; written policies indicating who is responsible for assessment, what must be assessed and when, and how results will be used; commitment of resources to support assessment; and recognition of assessment efforts (Suskie, 2004). A formal system of program assessment is a major link in the overall institutional effectiveness cycle. Program assessment data provide evidence of program strengths and weaknesses, which may lead faculty to make recommendations for curricular change (Allen 2004) Assessment Reform Group (2002) Testing, Motivation and Learning Cambridge: School of Education, University of Cambridge

Newton P (2004) Considerations in the design of summative assessment systems which incorporate teacher-led assessment. Paper presented to the core group of the Assessment systems for the future project, 11th and 12th January 2005, Cambridge, England Black, P. (2011) Formative and Summative Assessment by Teachers Assessments: Promises and Problems. pp. 11-19 in Assessment for Learning in the 21st Century: Report of the International Conference in Ohrid Macedonia May 2011. Task Group on Assessment and Testing (1987) National Curriculum: A Report London: DES