Revised January 2012

1.0 Introduction

Building the Curriculum 5, a Framework for Assessment, builds on the strengths of effective approaches to assessment developed through Assessment is for Learning.  (See Appendix 1 for a summary of Assessment is For Learning.) A summary of Building the Curriculum 5, a Framework for Assessment can be downloaded from

or the complete document from

The document is intended to further support planning, design and putting into practice the curriculum and approaches to assessment.  It provides an outline of the approaches to assessment to support the purposes of learning 3 to 18. More detailed guidance and exemplification is provided through the National Assessment Resource.

Useful information on assessment is also available from:


  • Teachers are skilled in assessment to support learning
  • Pupils are fully involved in planning, reflecting on and evaluating their own learning
  • The school has in place sound procedures for advising students about next steps in learning and quality assuring assessment judgements


The school  has a staff Assessment Improvement team taking forward Building the Curriculum 5, a Framework for Assessment,  in the school and developing consistency of approach through the sharing of best practice.

Appendix 1

The King’s College study ‘Inside the Black Box’ (Black and Wiliam 1998b) led to a project taking forward practice in four areas: questioning, feedback through marking, peer- and self-assessment by pupils, and the formative use of summative assessment. (‘Assessment for Learning – putting it into practice’ ,Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall, Wiliam, 2003).

The evidence from the research demonstrates that adopting these techniques improves achievement. From research at Dundee University, Miller  and Lavin, it was stated that   ‘pupils … improve their learning but also make “statistically significant” gains in self-esteem and self-confidence’.

Practice in Balfron High School includes:

  • Sharing learning criteria (objectives/outcomes) with pupils at the beginning of a lesson or topic
  • Giving wait time after asking a question to allow thinking time
  • Higher order questioning to develop higher order thinking  – application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, creativity rather than using questions to check knowledge and understanding
  • Traffic lighting (green, amber or red: pupils understand something, are reasonably confident about it, or not at all)
  • Comment only marking identifying what has been done well and what still needs to be improved with advice on how to make improvements and quality verbal feedback
  • Self and peer assessment (e.g. exchanging jotters, pupils critically self-assessing their own work)
  • Co-operative learning techniques

Aims of the programme – Assessment is For Learning

AifL – Assessment is for Learning is a streamlined and coherent system of assessment for Scottish schools that supports learning. It ensures that parents, teachers and other professionals have the feedback they need on pupils’ learning and development needs.

AifL aims to:

  • develops professional practice and confidence in assessment
  • quality assures teachers’ judgements, as part of understanding and sharing standards
  • monitors national attainment in a way that provides accurate information about overall standards and trends and that promotes good classroom practice.

This has the following benefits:

  • better feedback for pupils leading to improved achievement
  • a simplified system and support for teachers, and therefore a reduction in workload
  • clearer information for parents.

2.0 There are three main concept areas:

Assessment FOR Learning
– supporting classroom learning and teaching

Assessment AS Learning
– learning how to learn

Assessment OF Learning
– gathering and interpreting the evidence

2.1 Assessment FOR learning

This can be defined as ‘all those activities undertaken by teachers and/or by their students, which provide information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged’ (Black and Wiliam, 1998 – Authors of ‘Working Inside the Black Box’)

Learners learn best when …

  • they understand clearly what they are trying to learn, and what is expected of them
  • they are given feedback about the quality of their work and what they can do to make it better
  • they are given advice about how to go about making improvements
  • they are fully involved in deciding what needs to be done next, and who can give them help if they need it.

2.1.1 Involvement, discussion and feedback

  • Sharing criteria. Teachers, pupils and parents need to share learning intentions and criteria for successful learning in language that they all understand.
  • Discussion. Pupils can develop a deeper understanding of their learning when they are given opportunities to discuss their learning with their teacher individually, or with their peers.
  • Feedback. Quality feedback is essential for effective learning and teaching because it helps the planning of pupils’ ‘next steps’ in learning.
  • Involvement. Pupils’ active involvement in formative assessment approaches can support them in learning to reflect on their learning and to identify where they need to improve.  Formative assessment is the term given to any assessment activity when the evidence from that activity is used to adapt the teaching work to meet learning needs.

2.1.2  Planning and evidence

  • Gathering evidence. Teachers, pupils and parents might consider a range of evidence of learning when they are talking about progress.
  • Recording. Record keeping needs to be economical, emphasising the use of assessment evidence for planning future learning and teaching.
  • Personal learning planning. To be effective, personal learning planning must be embedded in the learning process.
  • Planning for individuals. Planning to meet the various needs of all pupils in the class promotes effective learning.

2.1.3  Partnership

Partnership with parents and pupils. Supporting and working with parents and pupils as partners improves learning, assessment and reporting

2.2    Assessment AS learning

Assessment AS learning is about learning how to learn.

Assessment as learning is about reflecting on evidence of learning. This is part of the cycle of assessment where pupils and staff set learning goals, share learning intentions and success criteria, and evaluate their learning through dialogue and self and peer assessment.

Learners become more aware of:

  • what they learn
  • how they learn
  • what helps them learn.

Through this process learners are able to build knowledge of themselves as learners, and become aware of how they learn.

It also helps them to take more responsibility for their learning and participate more in the process of learning.

2.2.1 Pupils as learners

  • Reflection. reflecting on their learning helps pupils to understand their learning better.
  • Reporting. Pupils’ understanding of, and involvement in, the reporting process supports their learning.
  • Self/peer assessment. Self and peer assessment are crucially important for effective learning. Learners will need support to develop these skills.
  • Motivation. Assessment has an emotional and motivational impact on learners. It needs to be sensitive and constructive.

2.2.2 Teachers as learners

  • Developing assessment policy. Teachers participating in developing assessment policy Interpreting evidence. Teachers developing skills in reflecting on the evidence they have of pupils’ learning.
  • Collaboration. Teachers understanding learning and progression through face-to-face discussion, particularly at points of transition.

2.2.3 Management of learning

  • Management support. Headteachers, and senior managers in schools and local education authorities, supporting teachers’ development of good practice.
  • Manageability. For assessment to support learning it needs to be manageable for pupils and teachers.

2.3  Assessment OF learning

2.3.1 Gathering and interpreting evidence

Teachers want to know how well their pupils are learning. They do this by gathering and interpreting evidence taken from their day-to-day work with their pupils. This evidence allows them to reach judgements about levels pupils have attained.

2.3.2  Local moderation

To quality-assure these judgements teachers may use local moderation

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