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Assessment in inclusive classrooms - Belgium (French speaking community)

Formative assessment

The aim of formative assessment is to facilitate learning choosing which activities to prioritise. It is integrated into teaching and incorporated into learning. Formative assessment contributes to enhancing learning, informing the teacher of the improvements that occur regarding the career, success and/or the difficulties of the pupil.

The formative assessment has a double aim:

  • encourages the pupil to take charge of his/her own achievements
  • helps the teacher to assess his/her own pedagogy and actions taken

Formative assessment is a tool for education, a tool for training - where the aim is to improve learning - and of regulation. Formative assessment compares the abilities of the pupil with the expected competence. It analyses the intermediate aims, the prerequisites, working methods and so on. Decisions are made strictly pedagogical where the teacher may modify his/her method and the pupil may modify his/her way of accomplishing the task. The formative assessment finds that pupils’ errors can be instructive for them.

Formative assessment is a tool for regulation which:

  • follows each activity informs both teacher and pupil on the degree of ability achieved
  • allows to precisely point out where the individual difficulties lay
  • determine which pupils need support in order to progress
  • allows learning to be adapted to the pace and to the ability of the pupil

The strategies for formative assessment:

  • the organisation of learning based around the competences : basic competences, final competences, transversal competences
  • the formulation of the aim of learning: abilities to be reached in terms of knowledge, expertise or know-how
  • communication with the pupil about the aim and content of their education : this communication is often motivated toward developing the pleasure of learning and gaining knowledge
  • the practice of differentiated pedagogy : detect the way to learn, the mental mechanism, errors when learning, organise support
  • the process of observation, a significant indicator able to measure results and progress
  • the construction of the assessment’s criterion contributes to a successful outcome
  • the development of an assessment strategy that can measure precisely what is learnt, using various and appropriate techniques of questioning.
  • Interdisciplinary procedures
  • the promotion of self-assessment  by the pupil

Self-assessment is a tool which gives the pupil the possibility to participate in the quality of their education and which encourages the pupil to take extra care with their studies according to the defined criterion. It is a tool which encourages motivation and responsibility.

Self-assessment also requires self-analysis, the attention of the pupils is often oriented on the contents of the teaching instead of the mental processes which allow the assimilation of learning. The precise questions of the teacher help the pupil to understand what happens in his/her mind when learning. The pupil will then independently be able to pay attention and use this knowledge in his/her personal structure and in further achievements. This is called meta-cognition. Self-analysis scales and self-assessment scales can be used. Self-assessment helps the pupil to know him/her self and what he/she would like to accomplish.

The way in which to acquire knowledge is diversified. The strategies of remediation are also diversified, sometimes concerning the contents, sometimes in the way to learn, sometimes both.

It is often necessary to:

  • take a pleasure in learning in order to withstand psychological or emotional problems
  • draw attention to the qualities and the abilities of the pupil to in order to move remediation into a positive condition

It is important to understand that we do not teach to assess but we assess to teach.

The important point of formative assessment is to make the pupil an actor in his/her own learning.

Certificative (or summative) assessment

Certificative or summative assessment is a method of assessment that evaluates the abilities of the pupil and whether these abilities meet the basic requirements of the programme. It is also applied in adjusting the level of studies and in graduation. This assessment must be coherant, respect the aims of learning and evaluate expected abilities and the conditions under which they are used. The certificative assessment is the final assessment which also recognises social competences and is given at the end of the student’s schooling including the formative assessment and remediation.

Instead of referring to the normal or comparing the abilities of a pupil with those of others, it is more appropriate to refer to the criterion and compare the result with the required standard. To be considered as a criterion the element must follow the definition of the competences.

With certificative assessment it is necessary to select a subject of assessment informing the pupil of the precise aim of the test. The test must contain exactly what is in the aim as each word used in the definition of the aim and in the test is important.

A test must contain two qualities. It must be valid (examine what it is supposed to examine) which can be attained with a precise definition of the competences. It must also be precise, meaning that a good test cannot give different results at different times.

The priorities for the certificative and summative assessment are:

  • to be clear : the rules of assessment must be clear to everyone and the modalities must be in coherence with the learning and the formative assessment
  • to be constant : all precautions must be taken to reduce the possibilities of error
  • clarity : the test must be announced and the pupil correctly prepared. The level of requirement must be precise. 

To prepare for the certificative assessment the pupil must be given the opportunity to acquire the necessary competences in order to fulfil the task.

During the assessment of a complex production, an analytical step with several criterion is necessary. The precision of the criterion and the level of requirement will allow an objective assessment. To decide whether competences are achieved or not, it is necessary to define which level of the criterion is considered as a priority.

The certificative assessment is linked to the summative assessment. The summative assessment gives a general evaluation of the abilities achieved. It is an observation, a final assessment, an accumulative evaluation of what the pupil has learnt. When the summative assessment is complete is can be used for example in the school report. Summative assessment is oriented towards the complete process of learning and not on partial knowledge.

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