Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom

Report
Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards
Through Classroom Assessment
By Paul Black and Dylan William
Presentation by Esther, Suzanne and Áine
The Argument
Present policy treats the classroom as a black box:
Pupils/teachers
More knowledgeable and
competent pupils
Management
Rules &requirements
Parental anxieties
Tests with pressures
Classroom
Better test results
Satisfied (and exhausted) teachers
Formative assessment is at the heart of effective teaching
“Teachers need to know about their pupil’s progress and difficulties with learning so that they can adapt to meet
their needs- needs which are often unpredictable and which vary from one pupil to another”.
Three main points:
1. There is evidence that improving formative assessment raises standards
2. There is room for improvement
3. There is evidence about how to improve formative assessment
Examples


Does improving formative assessment raise standards?

Studies which strengthened the practice of FA produced significant learning gains

Typical effect size between 0.4 and 0.7

Low achievers gained more: study focused purely on low-achieving students and students
with learning disabilities showed that frequent assessment feedback helped them enhance
their learning
Is there room for improvement?



A poverty of practice:

Effective learning (e.g. tests encourage superficial learning, not understanding)

Negative impact (e.g. low-achieving students are told that they lack “ability”-> not able to learn)

Managerial role of assessment (e.g. filling in of results reports is given greater priority than the
analysis of the pupils’ work)
An empty commitment from the government
How can we improve formative assessment?

The self-esteem of pupils

Self-assessment by pupils

The evolution of effective teaching
Summary and Quotes

“Teaching and learning have to be interactive”

“Innovations which include strengthening the practice of formative assessment
produce significant, and often substantial, learning gains”

“improved formative assessment helps the (so called) low attainers more than
the rest and so reduces the spread of attainment whilst also raising it overall.”

“Feedback to any pupil should be about the particular qualities of his or her
work, with advice on what he or she can do to improve, and should avoid
comparison with other pupils.”...“Marking reinforces under-achievement”

“Opportunities for pupils to express their understanding should be designed
into any piece of teaching”

“The dialogue between pupils and teachers should be thoughtful, reflective,
focused to evoke and explore understanding, and conduct so that all pupils
have an opportunity to think and to express their ideas”
Summary and Quotes

This study showed “firm evidence that indicates clearly a direction for change
which could improve standards or learning.”

PPS session 28 October: Working inside the black box: assessment for learning
in the classroom

Follows on from this article to provide advice on how to improve formative
assessment and address the issues identified, through:

Questioning

Feedback through grading

Formative use of summative tests

Peer assessment and self assessment

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