In summer 2015 SSAT was awarded funding – through the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) – for 140 secondary schools to be involved in a two-year professional development programme based on formative assessment.
This was a fantastic opportunity for schools to gain access to resources authored by Dylan Wiliam and to be guided by SSAT’s Lead Practitioners when embedding formative assessment across the whole school.
The lead member of staff at each selected school attended a launch event with Dylan Wiliam in September 2015 and over the next 18 months ran a series of eighteen monthly structured workshops for all their staff, working in groups of 8-12. These workshops helped teachers to change their practice and embed their use of formative assessment in the classroom.
Formative assessment involves teachers using evidence of students’ understanding and learning to make decisions. This evidence could also be used when planning lessons or differentiating activities for individual pupils. When assessing formatively, students are empowered to be owners of their own learning and to support each other to progress.
At the end of the two year project a report was produced on the outcomes, challenges, solutions and inspiring ideas from all the schools involved.
In July 2018 the external evaluation report from the Education Endowment Foundation was published. The key conclusions are:
- Students in the Embedding Formative Assessment schools made the equivalent of two additional months’ progress in their Attainment 8 GCSE score. This result has a very high security rating.
- The additional progress made by children in the lowest third for prior attainment was greater than that made by children in the highest third.
- Teachers were positive about the Teacher Learning Communities. They felt that these improved their practice by allowing valuable dialogue between teachers and encouraged experimentation with formative assessment strategies.
- The programme brought formative assessment techniques and strategies to the forefront of teachers’ minds for an extended period of time, which encouraged teachers to experiment with techniques and helped to embed already existing good practice. It was also reported to feed into an improvement in teaching quality.
SSAT EFA Support and Consultancy
SSAT EFA Resource
The funding provided by the EEF tested attainment at GCSE level and evaluated the impact of a cost-effective and scalable route to implementing formative assessment in a large number of schools. It was done through a randomised control trial (RCT), where schools were assigned to either the treatment or control groups by the National Institute for Social and Economic Research. The Institute also evaluated the research.