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Assess for faults and fix them

Assessment for learning is one of those things in teaching that everyone favours. To question it is now a heresy; not to be informed about it is professional suicide. It is a good thing. But we are all worried now because we know that what the strategy says is assessment for learning, isn't at all, and what's more, everyone, including Professor Paul Black (who was involved in developing the scheme) says so, but the steam roller rumbles on.

Why does it matter? Because teachers have to take control of our work and start asserting and clarifying our understanding about teaching over those who seek to guide us. In this case, to a state of confusion about what we are supposed to be doing and why.

We have to understand what AfL means in terms of day-to-day, lesson by lesson assessment for a teacher working in a classroom. The most accurate understanding of the main idea that drives assessment for learning is very simple: find faults and fix them.

Rob Smith, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield.

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