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Principles of assessment for learning

What is assessment for learning? 

Teacher discussing work with students

Assessment for learning is best described as a process by which assessment information is used by teachers to adjust their teaching strategies, and by students to adjust their learning strategies.

Assessment, teaching, and learning are inextricably linked as each informs the others.

Assessment is a powerful process that can either optimise or inhibit learning, depending on how it is applied.

Purposes of assessment

Teacher and student discussing learning

Teaching and learning 

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve students’ learning and teachers’ teaching as both respond to the information it provides.

Assessment for learning is an ongoing process that arises out of the interaction between teaching and learning.

What makes assessment for learning effective is how well the information is used.

System improvement

Assessment can do more than simply diagnose and identify students’ learning needs; it can be used to assist improvements across the education system in a cycle of continuous improvement.

  • Students and teachers can use the information gained from assessment to determine their next teaching and learning steps.
  • Parents, families and whānau can be kept informed of next plans for teaching and learning and the progress being made, so they can play an active role in their children’s learning.
  • School leaders can use the information for school-wide planning, to support their teachers and determine professional development needs.
  • Communities and Boards of Trustees can use assessment information to assist their governance role and their decisions about staffing and resourcing.
  • The Education Review Office can use assessment information to inform their advice for school improvement.
  • The Ministry of Education can use assessment information to undertake policy review and development at a national level, so that government funding and policy intervention is targeted appropriately to support improved student outcomes.

>> Underlying principles of assessment for learning

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