Originally posted on gregashman.wordpress.com
Dylan Wiliam is a world authority on formative assessment and Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment at the UCL Institute of Education in London. His popular book on formative assessment, Embedded Formative Assessment, was recently released as a revised edition and his latest book, Creating the Schools our Children Need, critically examines the ways we could seek to improve education at a system level. Following the recent trial of a professional development approach to formative assessment conducted by the Education Endowment Foundation in the UK, I thought it would be good to catch up with Wiliam and seek his thoughts.
1. The Education Endowment Foundation in the UK (EEF) recently published the findings of its trial of the Embedding Formative Assessment professional development programme. How would you summarise these findings?
I think the first thing to say about the EEF trial of the Embedding Formative Assessment (EFA) professional development programme is that it was what is called in medical research an “intention to treat” study. In other words, the study did not just look at the schools who implemented the programme faithfully. Rather it recruited 140 schools, divided them into two groups, and gave half the schools DVDs with the training materials (experimental group), and the other half just got the cash equivalent (control group). The other difference is that representatives of the school got one day’s inservice training, and minimal support over the two years of the project. We know that many of the schools given the materials did not implement them as intended, and it appears that teachers found the ideas more applicable to the teaching of younger children (11 to 14 year olds) than the students whose achievement was assessed in the project (14 to 16 year olds). The evaluation therefore measured the effect of just giving the materials to schools, and therefore gives us a good idea of what would happen if the programme was implemented at scale.