About the project

Education research indicates that digital formative assessment is beneficial for improving students’ learning. But there are still many open questions. How can teachers effectively implement DFA in their classroom? What are the ideal conditions for the uptake of DFA? How can we make digital formative assessment a Europe-wide practice? To answer these questions, Assess@Learning developed an online toolkit.

Our starting point

Digital formative assessment (DFA) actively engages both teachers and students in the learning process. By the information teachers receive about students’ level of understanding, they adapt their teaching to better meet the learning needs of individual students, while students learn better by receiving immediate feedback on their learning. However, DFA practices are not yet widely used across Europe. A@L will run field trials to test the impact of a DFA toolkit in five countries. The project (2019-2022) is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Commission, with partners from Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom and coordinated by European Schoolnet. 

The systemic online toolkit provides practical guidance, teaching scenarios and cases studies to all who need to be on board to successfully implement DFA. It targets teachers, students, school heads, parents and policy makers and shows the role of each in this process.


The Assess@Learning policy experimentation addresses a known system-wide problem, assessment, its fit for purpose in modern digital education systems and the need for a wider take up of digital formative assessment practices. 

Systemic approach.

In order to achieve large-scale adoption of DFA practices, all actors in education must take action to support teachers in implementing it. The A@L online toolkit  contains various examples of DFA-based activities to provide teachers with teaching scenarios to implement DFA in their classroom; case studies to school heads and policy makers to inspire them in supporting DFA in their own context; and information for students and parents, guiding them on the role they could play to support DFA. 

International approach.

Assess@Learning can benefit from the unique perspective and context in different countries from past cross-national policy experimentations carried out by European Schoolnet. Partners shape every step of the project: the development of the online toolkit, testing it in their own country and interpreting the results of the experimentation to inform future steps in their countries.

Combining qualitative and quantitative data.

In addition to the quantitative analysis of identifying the impact of the toolkit,   Assess@Learning runs a series of dialogue labs in the five project countries: these are networking workshops where education stakeholders convene to discuss (1) the steps to take for the up-take of DFA practices; (2) the challenges to large-scale adoption of DFA; and (3) how these challenges can be overcome. The project will give voice to students and benefit from their perspective by organising Student Dialogue Labs.

Field trials in 5 countries

The five countries have different levels of implementation of DFA and digital assessment in general, as well as different cultural approaches to pedagogy and governance models. Assess@Learning brings together the different perspectives and expertise of these countries. This approach ensures that Assess@Learning will develop the guidelines that tackle all kinds of challenges to adopting DFA in schools.

Current state in the partner countries

Estonia has expertise in school-wide use of digital management platforms (e.g eSchool, Stuudium) to support formative assessment. New curriculum in 2011, formative assessment was an important part of it with guidelines on how to implement it at school level. Estonia has a higher-level use of central student assessments for formative purposes than for summative purposes. Two digital platforms exist that most Estonian schools use, one gives the option for digital assessment. FA without grade is nowadays a widely used practice especially for subjects such as arts, music and physical education. The Information Technology Foundation for Education (HITSA) a partner of Assess@Learning, guide innovation and trainings to ensure that possibilities offered by ICT are skilfully used in teaching and learning.

Assessment for learning is part of the Finnish tradition, set in legislation since 1998. Relatively decentralised, the governance of assessment lies with the schools. Teachers are expected to develop the students' capacity for self-assessment and have introduced learner-centred and process-oriented assessment practices in many schools. There are numerous technology-based self-assessment applications in use in Finnish schools, leaving providers and schools a lot of autonomy to decide which kind of tools and materials are used. There is also a state-funded tutoring framework, enabling schools to have tutors for teachers on the use of digital assessment. The government would like to identify the most suitable digital tools for all schools and to establish national criteria for formative assessment.

Greece brings the centralized-system perspective as its education system is under the central responsibility of the Ministry. Formative assessment is advisable in national context. However, students' assessment in secondary education is mostly traditional. Recent plans foresee the introduction of descriptive assessment throughout compulsory education. The new educational policy agenda prioritises digital education and the enhanced possibilities of digital educational material and evaluation tools. Although there is no nation-wide strategy for DFA, most Greek teachers view their students' assessment as a continuous reflective process and use it as feedback to adapt their teaching. Some of them apply DFA practices in schools on their own initiative (e.g. portfolios, authentic evaluation). The national platforms ‘Greek School Network’, ‘MySchool’ and ‘Digital School’ provide the enabling infrastructure and tools (e-learning, collaboration and support services, L/CMS, e-portfolios, Open Educational Resource repositories, etc). The country’s strategic priorities for education also include the teachers' professional development with emphasis on digital skills. Certain interest exists towards incorporating the subject of DFA in the curriculum of the national action for the In-Service Teachers’ Training in the Utilization of Digital Technologies in the Teaching Practice (B-level training) which contains a wide variety of teaching strategies and digital tools.

Portugal has been recently undergoing a process of curriculum redesign including a shift towards formative assessment. This is reflected in legislation published recently and in the new curriculum reference documents.  Nevertheless, Portugal has witnessed an increase of several assessment practices in some schools, notably including ICT resources. However, it is a current challenge to diagnose, improve, evaluate and scale up these practices.

In 2019/2020, Portugal has been implementing the Maia Project in the scope of formative assessment. This is a research project conducted at national level which aims to improve the assessment of students’ learning in the classroom with a view to help them to better succeed in their learning. This project targets mainstream education courses and vocational courses from primary to upper secondary education. It involves classroom assessment workshops where students have the opportunity to experiment with several formative assessment tools and techniques. Representatives of the teacher training centres at school level build teacher capacity so that each teacher can directly apply these tools and techniques with their own students. A core team consisting of delegates from the DGE/Ministry of Education, a higher education institution and school clusters/schools across mainland Portugal monitor this project.

Spain defines by law that the assessment of students will be continuous, formative and integrating. The Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Education and Training (VET) finds it important for teachers to not only include technology in their daily educational practice but also in the evaluation of the students’ outcomes. Spain has also expertise in monitoring/supporting teacher practices such as the use of freeware online quizzes, digital portfolios and online rubrics. The Spanish Ministry of Education and VET, through the National Institute of Educational Technology and of Teacher Training (INTEF) is responsible, at national level, for the teacher training plans and for the projects focused on promoting and integrating technologies in schools. On their website, INTEF also offers online trainings for teachers and example practices of DFA.
Our partners

The Assess@Learning policy experimentation is coordinated by European Schoolnet. The project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union

Eight partners in seven countries are part of this project: Ministries of Education, other public authorities and delegated bodies of public authorities. Each partner contributes to the project with their own point of view and expertise in digital formative assessment, covering theory, research, practice and policy.