This article reports on a study about the achievement of secondary school students who worked in classrooms where teachers were given the time to develop formative assessment strategies. Specifically, twenty-four teachers (two science and two mathematics teachers, in each of six schools, in two local education agencies [LEAs]) were supported over a six-month period to explore and plan their approach to formative assessment. The teachers implemented their plans with selected classes in September 1999. In order to compute effect sizes, a measure of prior attainment and at least one comparison group was established for each class (typically either an equivalent class taught in the previous year by the same teacher, or a parallel class taught by another teacher). The mean effect size in favor of the intervention was 0.32. The article addresses the issue that despite the consensus that formative assessment (or assessment for learning) leads to higher quality learning, schools are precluded from using formative assessment because they are under pressure to improve students’ results in externally set tests and examinations.
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