Chapter 1

The promise and challenge of classroom assessment

  • assessment fills many, sometimes conflicting, purposes
    • feedback
    • Summaries for record-keeping
    • evidence for reports
    • evidence for curricular and instructional adaptations

If learning is the goal, assessment for learning is very powerful. (p. 3)

more than 4000 research investigations show clearly that when [formative assessment] is well implemented in a classroom, it can essentially double the speed of student learning (Popham, 2011, p. 2)

  • However, formative assessment is not evident or is very superficial in most classrooms
Assessment of learning
  • accrediting or judging learner work
Assessment for learning
  • feedback loops ensure learners are cued to move forward
Assessment as learning
  • draws on the role of personal monitoring and challending of ideas that are embedded in the learning process and the role of both students and teachers in fostering the self-regulation processs.

From the original edition...

[Assessment as learning] reinforces the role of formative assessment by emphasizing the role of the student, not only as a contributor to the assessment and learning process, but the critical connector between them. The student is the link. Students, as active, engaged, and critical assessors can make sense of information, relate it to prior knowledge, and master the skills involved. This is the regulatory process in meta-cognition. It occurs when students personally monitor what they are learning and use the feedback from this monitoring to make adjustments, adaptations and even major changes in what they understand. Assessment as learning is the ultimate goal, where students are their bets assessors. (Earl, 2003, p. 47)

Assessment as learning is not

  • Exit-cards
  • stoplights
  • Routine assessments throughout a course
  • Mini-assessments to prepare for large summative assessments
  • classroom management

However, it should identify misconceptions and misunderstandings and engage students in thinkng about their learning

Assumption: Everyone must learn. The primary purpose of schooling is optimizing learning for all students.


Popham, W. J. (2011, February 23). Formative Assessment­—A Process, Not a Test—Education Week. Education Week.