Assessment for Learning and Pupils with Special Educational Needs The aim of this paper is to provide a summary of the key issues that emerged during the Agency project Assessment in Inclusive Settings in relation to the application of the concept of Assessment for Learning to pupils with special educational needs (SEN). A significant aspect of inclusive assessment in practice that emerged from the on-going discussions with Project Experts was the concept of Assessment for Learning. References to this concept can be found in the majority of project Country Reports on national assessment systems (www.european-agency.org /site/themes/assessment/index.shtml). Within these Country Reports, Assessment for Learning can be seen as a ‘qualitative’ type of assessment procedures. This type of assessment - also referred to as ‘formative’ or ‘on-going’ assessment - is usually carried out in classrooms by class teachers and professionals that work with the class teacher. It usually refers to assessment procedures that inform teachers about pupils’ learning and guides them in planning the next steps in teaching. As a central task within the second phase of the Agency project, a decision was taken to explore in more depth the concept of Assessment for Learning and how this can be applied to assessment in inclusive settings. Two activities were conducted: - A review of available literature considering the concept. This was a short review of English language materials (please see the reference list at the end of this document); - Discussions with all Project Experts. Information from the initial review of available literature was presented to Project Experts as a stimulus for their discussions. This led to the Experts being asked to reflect on the differences between Assessment for Learning (formative, ongoing assessment) and Assessment of Learning (summative assessment) using the following parameters: PARAMETERS PURPOSE GOALS ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING Supporting Learning Accountability (linked to predetermined standards) Informs teaching and learning Promotes further steps in learning Focuses on improving Develops pupils’ skills of reflection Collection of information about what has been achieved (a record of marks) Compares with targets that have been pre-established. Focuses on achievement
ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING Teachers Pupils Parents Peers Other school professionals On-going
ASSESSMENT OF LEARNING Teachers External practitioners
At fixed and pre-determined times
Discussions, observations, self- Tests, drilling, grading, marking, assessment, peer-assessment, questioning, observation teacher debate, comment-only, dialogue, questioning, feedback, no-grading, portfolio, individual education plan
Adapted from Harlen (2007a)
The key difference between Assessment for Learning and Assessment of Learning can be identified as the purpose for which teachers and other professionals gather evidence of learning. Although some tools may be the same (e.g. questioning) the key issues emerging from the feedback provided by Project Experts indicated that it is necessary to keep in mind that: - Assessment for Learning aims at improving learning; Assessment of Learning aims at ensuring accountability (of schools and teachers). - Assessment for Learning explores the potential for learning and indicates the next step to be taken in order to promote learning and focuses upon the dynamics of teaching and learning); Assessment of Learning shows what has been already achieved, memorised and absorbed and provides a snapshot of the current situation. - The actors involved in Assessment for Learning are able to provide insights into progress that a pupil has achieved and how the school contributed to this development; the actors involved in Assessment of Learning include professionals who are external to the school...