The resource is a digest of two papers which report on the Kings Medway and Oxfordshire Formative Assessment Project (KMOFAP), a year long project that started in 1999 between researchers from King's College London and two local authorities (LAs), Medway and Oxfordshire. The LA assessment advisers and the researchers supported twenty-four teachers, one from the science and one from the mathematics department in each secondary school taking part. Two of the researchers were the writers of Inside the Black Box (Black and Wiliam 1998).
There could be some confusion as to the role of this digest, as it relates more to the article that cannot be downloaded than the one that can. The screen text, a word download document and a printer friendly version all differ in layout and the word document allows the reader to view track changes. The document that can be downloaded states it is a revised version of a paper first presented in 2001. The links to other articles and other pages are not live.
The digest promotes understanding of formative assessment and how the research findings from Inside the Black Box can be developed in the classroom. After Inside the Black Box, KMOFAP is one of the most quoted studies. Its value is enhanced not only because of the King's team, but the LA advisers supporting the project are prominent in the field of assessment and both are past presidents of the Association for Achievement and Improvement through Assessment (AAIA). Due to the credibility of the original work, it is easy to miss that it does not really review article 1.
A major strength of the digest is the focus on teachers' voice, and therefore it has immediate appeal to teachers and teachers in training. The focus of article 1 is on how to support teachers in developing their practice, not whether formative assessment is effective in raising standards. However, the digest does not develop this aspect, covering instead aspects including:
- Improved questioning - including wait time, no hands up and teacher's questions
- Marking that improved students' learning
- Peer and self-assessment
- The use of summative assessment in a formative way
- How teachers' own practices changed
- The implications of the research for other practitioners
- Where to find out more
These elements are included in article 1 from a statistical, rather than practical, angle. The where to find out more section, links to an outdated bibliography.
The outcome of the KMOFAP project was its measurable improvements in learning, and was judged by comparing students' progress with progress of students in classes not involved in the assessment for learning practices. Overall, the measure of the improvement was half a GCSE grade. The digest reports that the project found that the more a teacher embeds strategies into their practice, the more consistent are the gains in attainment. The estimated cost of these gains is £2000 per teacher per year, but like many interesting statistics reported in article 1, this is not discussed.
Despite the passage of time, the KMOFAP study is still an influential piece of work. The digest has broken the key findings from article 2 into bite size pieces and is user friendly: the teacher perspective makes it readable. It will support those who are just starting to grapple with the practice of assessment for learning.
The KMOFAP study was also the subject of two television broadcasts in 2001. These are available and viewing is recommended. Teachers involved in the study published their own perspectives in professional journals, and these documents should also be accessed, as they provide both personal and wider perspectives of the project. A particularly poignant account of a teacher changing their views was written by one of the science teachers; Spenceley, P. (2000) "Once a Rat Always a Rat!", Science Teacher Education.
The digest is a useful resource for tutors, because it demonstrates how the findings from Inside the Black Box, can be used to change teacher practice. It also makes a good source document alongside article 1, for debating issues of credibility of published reviews. Tutors might also use article 1 to reflect upon issues of reliability and validity, as a more vigorous approach is taken to these issues. It is a pity that article 2 is not free to view, thus limiting the impact of the digest.
Students will benefit from reading the digest as it is easily accessible and presented in ‘small chunks'. The link between the digest and the articles it reviews is confusing, and as long as students view these as separate entities the digest has merit: the personal quotes from the teachers make the subject relevant, and it will appeal to students and teachers who will recognise real classrooms. It also provides an insight into improving teaching and learning that could be replicable by students in their own classroom, forming the basis of Master level studies. It is a useful digest to evaluate alongside article 1 as a literature-critiquing task.
Explicit Learning Plus - Thinking Aloud
This series of programmes on BBC2 will be of interest to teachers and educators dealing with both primary and secondary phases of education.
Article published to :
2007: Professional attributes (Q1-9), 2007: Professional knowledge and understanding (Q10-21), 2007: Professional skills (Q22-33), Assessing, monitoring and giving feedback (Q26-28), Assessment and monitoring (Q11-13), Communicating and working with others (Q4-6), Q26 (a) Make effective use of a range of assessment, monitoring and recording strategies, Q26 (b) Assess the learning needs of those they teach in order to set challenging learning objectives, Q27 Provide timely, accurate and constructive feedback on learners’ progress, S3.2.1 Make appropriate use of a range of monitoring and assessment strategies, S3.2.2 Monitor/Assess and give constructive feedback, S3.2.4 Identify/support pupils exceeding/working below their potential
Type of Resource
Reports, Ward, Hellen
Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Mathematics, Science
Wiliam, D., Lee, C., Harrison, C. and Black, P. (with Marshall, B. for Article 2)
Article Id : 13373
Date Posted: 2/5/2007