To help our students thrive in the incredibly confusing, unpredictable 21st century era, our main focus should be on increasing educational achievement by increasing the quality of pedagogical teaching in our schools. The author, Dylan Wiliam, tackles this challenge by making a case for the necessary role of formative assessment in increasing the quality of teaching and student learning. While there are multiple ways in which we could choose to develop the practice of serving teachers, attention to minute-by-minute and day-to-day formative assessment is likely to make the biggest change on student outcomes. Wiliam’s view of formative assessment differs from the popular view in which he regards formative assessment as a process and not a tool.
Wiliam describes what formative assessment is and presents the five key strategies of formative assessment:
Clarifying, sharing and understanding learningintentions and criteria for success.
Engineering effective classroom discussions, activities and learning tasksthat elicit evidence of learning.
Providing feedback that moves learning forward.
Activating learners as instructional resources for one another.
Activating learners as owners of their own learning.
The book offers a detailed summary of the research evidence that shows the result of each strategy and offers a number of practical techniques that teachers have used to incorporate each strategy into their regular classroom teaching practice.
Teachers hear about formative assessment quite often, but rarely use it well. Dylan William does an outstanding job of brushing off the surface layer and getting right to the heart of the matter. He provides great research and a few suggestions of his own, about teaching preparations, as well as providing about 53 formative assessment techniques that the teachers can use daily in the classroom. William drives several points home in this book, which classroom teachers can absorb and reflect on.
There is a 65-85% increase in the speed of learning when effective formative assessment techniques are used in classrooms on a daily basis.
By incorporating classroom formative assessment practices into daily activities, teachers and trainers can significantly increase student engagement and rate of student learning.
This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine August 2020 edition.