Dylan Wiliam’s defence of formative assessment


Back in March I wrote a post called Why AfL might be wrong, and what to do about it based, largely, on Dylan Wiliam’s book Embedded Formative Assessment (If you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to do so as many of the common misconceptions about AfL are specifically addressed). I’m pleased to report that Dylan has taken time out of his hectic schedule to comment on the post and defend the essentials of formative assessment. What follows is, in its entirety, the comment left on the original post.

In his post on “Why AfL might be wrong, and what to do about it” David Didau points out (correctly) that it is impossible to assess what students have learned in an individual lesson. As John Mason once said, “teaching takes place in time, but learning takes place over time” (Griffin, 1989). The ultimate test of any teaching is long-term changes in what students can do (or avoid doing, such as getting pregnant or taking drugs). The problem with such an approach to teaching is that if we wait until we see the long-term evidence, it will be too late. An analogy with automobile manufacturing may be helpful here.

Read more on The Learning Spy…

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