Learning about ‘assessment for learning’ – trainee teachers’ perceptions of the purposes and nature of school assessment

Learning about ‘assessment for learning’ – trainee teachers’ perceptions of the purposes and nature of school assessment

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Learning about 'assessment for learning' - trainee teachers' perceptions of the purposes and nature of school assessment

Recommendations from research that emphasises the value of formative modes of assessment for effective teaching and learning under the label ‘,Assessment for Learning’, has been adopted in England as part of government guidance to teachers. However, the English education system remains committed to high-stakes testing that inevitably emphasises the importance of summative assessment outcomes by which learners, teachers and schools are judged. This creates acomplex professional context for new teachers who are expected to make sense of the tensions between what they are told is ‘,good practice’,, and what appears to be necessary to be seen to be doing the job of a teacher. This paper reports from aresearch project that has been exploring how graduates undertaking initial teacher education understand the purposes and characteristics of assessment in schools. A sample of trainee teachers were interviewed after one term of their course, shortly before entering their second professional placement where they would take on regular responsibility for school classes. The paper reports on trainees’, developingunderstanding of the rationale for, and principles, of ‘,Assessment for Learning’, in terms of how prior experiences as learners and observations on school placement influenced their learning from University-based sessions.

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