Assessment: formative and classroom-based


Head of Assessment, Wolgarston High School, Staffordshire, UK.

PhD researcher of music education at Birmingham City University, UK.

Abstract / Introduction

There is over fifty-years’-worth of research evidence to suggest that formative assessment, when used effectively, can have a significant impact on pupil outcomes. Despite the wealth of research into, and exemplification of good practice, formative assessment in some countries like England, for example, has not had the impact it promised (Coe, 2013) because it has become confused in some schools, is weak in practice, and, therefore, requires clarifying.

To support teachers in developing their understanding of formative assessment, this MESHGuide:

  • explains what formative assessment is;
  • offers concise information as to why it has not had the impact it promised in schools (using England as an example); and
  • suggests how, using Leahy et al.’s (2005) short-cycle formative assessment framework, it can be made better in the busy classroom to improve both the quality of teaching and outcomes for all pupils.

Within Leahy et al.’s (2005) framework, the important strategies of: sharing and clarifying learning intentions and success criteria; eliciting quality evidence of learning; providing feedback to move teaching and learning forward; and self- and peer-assessment are explored to support quality minute-by-minute, day-by-day assessment practice.

Strength of Evidence

There is extensive research into forms of assessment in education and the ideas in this Guide are backed up by research across settings, ages and phases.

Transferability across countries and settings

Constructive feedback/formative assessment from a teacher provides the stepping stones for learners, giving them confidence they are progressing. The principles for this, we suggest, apply across cultures, settings, ages and phases.

Date of publication
19 Aug 2020
Date of revision
19 Aug 2020
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