Introducing digital formative assessment to your school
Digital Formative Assessment (DFA) can help teachers adapt their teaching to students’ needs and improve learning outcomes. This toolkit provides school leaders with insights from teachers, school heads and policy makers on how to implement DFA successfully.
Why is formative assessment important for my school?
Formative assessment fosters a growth mindset that one can always get better and is always looking forward to improving, encourages teachers to adapt their teaching to students’ needs and can foster a whole-school learning culture in which students feel safe to make mistakes and learn from them.
Assessment is often seen both by teachers and students as something that happens after learning, an additional burden unrelated to the learning process. Integrating assessment within learning is not always obvious; some teachers focus on ‘teaching to the test’ or they would like to focus more on skills such as critical thinking but cannot find time to do so. Formative assessment can not only provide a bridge between learning and assessment, but also promote competence development in areas such as critical thinking and learning to learn.
School heads tend to focus on high-stakes (‘summative’) tests, but formative assessment has been shown to enhance learning and achievement. Moreover, formative assessment can start with small steps and be achievable by all teachers of all subjects.
What is formative assessment all about?
Formative assessment (FA) may seem different from the traditional summative assessment from graded and standardised tests, but that does not mean it does not go well with them. It is not a case of either-or: FA can help students succeed in summative, high-stakes tests. But what is formative assessment?
Why is digital formative assessment important for my school?
Formative assessment can be enriched and made more effective by using digital tools, so-called Digital Formative Assessment (DFA). Digital tools can, for example, diversify and facilitate formative assessment, save time when making assessments, make sharing experiences with peers easier and enable students to check their past work and the feedback they received so that they retain better what they learnt.
How do I start with DFA in my school?
The most important thing is to do something, to make a start: in not too big steps, but to get started. Then fine tune the process along the way together with teachers, students, staff and parents.
How can I support DFA in my school?
Below are points to consider when planning to get started with DFA or supporting further DFA practices in your school.
Teachers readily learn from each other, so create opportunities for exchange. They can also join forces to try DFA practices; for instance, a teacher of social sciences can team up with a teacher of Informatics for a joint lesson that also addresses digital competence using digital educational tools.
As school head, your support for individual and collective teacher initiatives makes a difference. Encourage teachers to make use of this toolkit and be inspired by the DFA teaching scenarios.
Infrastructure for DFA
As DFA involves the use of digital educational tools, the technical and logistical conditions have to be in place. These include availability of digital devices, internet connections, training opportunities and time. A staff member responsible for ICT can help in thinking about these questions.
What else the Assess@Learning toolkit offers
The Assess@Learning toolkit offers case studies and guidelines to help school heads plan actions to support teachers in implementing or further developing DFA. The sections aimed at teachers, students, parents and policy makers are worth reading as well in order better to understand their role in DFA.