Assessment for Learning: 10 principles

Assessment for Learning Poster image

What the resource is:
This leaflet/poster, produced by the Assessment Reform Group (ARG) in 2002, summarises the key features which have resulted from extensive research into Assessment for Learning (AfL). It outlines ten principles towards changing assessment practice in the classroom, whilst at the same time maintaining the quality of learning experiences.


The aims of the resource:
The aim is to show how the essential features of AfL can be put into practice. On the back page, it states that "This leaflet/poster is a further step towards changing assessment practice to safeguard the necessary quality of learning experiences needed for achieving the goals of education". It is worth noting that the guidance was produced four years after Black and Wiliams' (1998) initial research into AfL and that subsequent research by ARG had added "further evidence in support of this claim".


Key findings or focus:
Rather than provide a list or table, the guiding principles are visually represented as ‘sun's rays' which facilitate further clarification of the principles. This visual element is an important feature as it gives the poster more impact. 


Ten guiding principles are outlined and exemplified on the poster, illustrating how AfL should:

  • be part of a teacher's effective planning
  • focus on how students learn
  • be a central feature of classroom practice
  • be seen as a key professional skill for all teachers
  • be viewed as a sensitive and constructive process
  • never underestimate the importance of student motivation
  • encourage a shared understanding of the criteria by which learning goals are assessed
  • ensure learners receive constructive guidance on how to improve their learning
  • develop the learners' capacity for self-assessment
  • recognise the full range of educational achievement


The quality, authority and credibility of the resource from your subject perspective in relation to ITE:
This resource is of high credibility. It was based on research and subsequent publications, primarily Inside the Black Box (Black and Wiliam 1998) and Assessment for Learning: Beyond the Black Box (Assessment Reform Group 1999). Furthermore, it is stated that "the empirical evidence for this resource is underpinned by theory from the psychology of learning and studies of learning motivation". Also, the authors claim that the Principles of assessment for learning outlined "have benefited from comments from a wide variety of individuals and associations"; this body of evidence "has shown that assessment for learning is one of the most powerful ways of improving learning and raising standards" in the classroom. Therefore, it merits serious consideration by ITE tutors and students as well as existing teachers both in primary and secondary education, particularly in view of the impact AfL has had, and the central part it plays in current education policy. Thus, it is essential that ITE prepares beginning teachers for this.


The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
Tutors in all phases of ITE should ensure this resource is an essential reference for students. They should emphasise the key characteristics of AfL in order to illustrate the links between underlying theory and practice. Students should be introduced to the seminal work of Black and Wiliam (1998) which preceded and provided the evidence for these key principles. This poster provides a more condensed appreciation, whilst the Black Box leaflets provide a deeper understanding of AfL. The poster also provides a context for contrasting this approach to assessment with ‘assessment of learning'.


The relevance to ITE students:
This is a key resource for classroom practice and should be understood and viewed as a useful reference by ITE students on school placement. It provides students with a good example of how a research informed resource can support their planning for AfL in the classroom. It enables students to see how underlying theory influences classroom practice. However, in order to ensure students grasp the full significance of this resource, it should be read in relation to other related publications by Black and Wiliam and the Assessment Reform Group (ARG). The resource can also contribute to the wider debate surrounding assessment, and provide a link between planning, teaching and assessment.



Reviewed by:

Sandra Eady



Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (1998) Inside the Black Box

Assessment Reform Group (1999) Assessment for Learning: Beyond the Black Box