The journey so far: assessment for learning in Scotland

Hutchinson, C. and Hayward, L. (2005) The journey so far: assessment for learning in Scotland. Curriculum Journal, 16(2), pp. 225-248. (doi: 10.1080/09585170500136184)

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This article takes the form of a case-study, outlining the progress of policy and practice in Scotland towards the introduction of Assessment for Learning in pre-school and schools for children aged 3–14. The period described comprises the launch of 5–14 curriculum and assessment guidelines in the early 1990s, a review and consultation on assessment in pre-school and 5–14 by HM Inspectorate of Schools, the recent assessment development programme, Assessment is for Learning (AifL), initiated in 2002, and the publication by the Scottish Executive Education Department (SEED) of a set of curriculum and assessment policy documents for education 3–18 in November 2004. The assessment guidelines published in 1991 put considerable emphasis on professional practice in assessment as part of learning and teaching, promoting what would now be recognized as ‘assessment for learning'. However, curriculum guidelines for English language and mathematics and new arrangements for national testing in reading, writing and mathematics were published at the same time. These commanded considerable professional and public attention, so that curriculum content and measurement of attainment levels, rather than the quality of assessment practice in classrooms, became the main focus of schools' planning and action. The increasing emphasis on standards, target-setting and accountability in the mid- to late 1990s ensured that measurement, rather than assessment for learning, remained the main priority. Recognition on the part of ministers that assessment and testing arrangements were not working well for learners, teachers or policy-makers led to the 1999 review and consultation. This once again asserted the importance for learning and achievement of good professional practice in classroom assessment. At the same time, the emphasis in policy more generally was shifting towards establishing a culture of self-evaluation in local authorities and schools. The Assessment is for Learning development programme has sought to bring together these various threads in a coherent national system of assessment. It aims to promote excellence in professional assessment practice, the primacy of teachers' judgements and sound arrangements for local quality assurance of those judgements, to ensure consistency. For national monitoring of attainment, there will be a cycle of sample surveys rather than a collection of data for all schools and pupils. The programme has also sought to take account of research on the management of change to ensure that the new system is developed collaboratively with stakeholders and put into effect in all Scottish schools.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hayward, Professor Louise
Authors: Hutchinson, C., and Hayward, L.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Pedagogy Policy and Practice
Journal Name:Curriculum Journal
ISSN (Online):1469-3704
Published Online:17 February 2007

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