Digital Reading

Submitted by: Grant Page

As the membership chair of CAfLN, I have been spending some time searching the internet for contact information of potential members of our network. In doing so, I often am distracted from my original task by websites that speak to AfL. Here are three of those “distractions”:

Unleashing the Promise of Assessment for Learning

Many teachers say that they do “assessment for learning” (AfL), but often their assessment practice does not really reflect the intentions and principles that make AfL powerful. Teachers who understand the “spirit” as well as the “letter” of AfL are continually building their expertise so that they can carefully apply their professional knowledge on a moment-by-moment basis. They are routinely engaged in seeking, reflecting upon, and responding to information from dialogue, demonstration, and observation, with ideas and feedback that are immediate and directed at learning, in real time. These teachers need policy support, organizational structures, and professional development, so that they can use this knowledge and its application to enhance learning for all students. This is the online version of an article written by one of CAfLN’s founders, Lorna Earl, Louis Volante, professor at Brock University and Steven Katz, faculty member in Human Development and Applied Psychology at OISE at the University of Toronto for the Winter 2015 edition of the CEA’s Education Canada.

Assessment for Learning across Canada – Where have we been and where are we are going?

From the same edition of Education Canada, this article discusses the genesis and evolution of assessment for learning (AFL) within Canada and juxtaposes recent developments against the broader international community. The authors also discuss the implications of recent policy shifts, both towards increased accountability and towards incorporating assessment for and as learning into provincial education strategies, and the ongoing tensions that exist between AFL and summative forms of assessment within education systems. Ongoing gaps in the implementation of AFL, due to both practical barriers and the need to develop teacher capacity, do still exist and are being addressed through emerging initiatives across the country to support more effective integration of AFL summarizes the history of AfL in Canada. The article was written by Chris DeLuca, assistant professor at Queen’s University and 2016 CAfLN Conference and Chair along with CAfLN founding member, Lorna Earl, and Louis Volante, professor at Brock University.

Assessing Students’ Affect Related to Assessment for Learning

Published by Rick Stiggins and James Popham, this paper focuses on AfL and student affect or the personal perceptions and predispositions students have about their learning. There is an assessment of the effect of AfL on the way students’ feel about learning. I have used this with my students in middle school as a way to assess my own use of AfL in the classroom. There are three surveys that can be administered to students, a scoring guide and some suggestions for teachers once they have some data. Scoring is easy and teachers can quickly get a sense of how students feel about learning in their classroom.

Ten Things That Matter From Assessment to Grading


Ten Things That Matter From Assessment to Grading

By: Tom Schimmer

Submitted by: Veronica Saretsky

“This quick read has some great summaries of ten things we need to keep working on. Each chapter goes over one big idea. Some wonderful illustrated examples of how these ideas can play out in the classroom.”

Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment

Lorna Earl - Portrait

Submitted By Lorna Earl

This document is readily available on line through the link below.

Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment

It is part of a growing grey literature being produced by organisations and publishers that addresses serious educational issues and write about them in accessible ways. This document is written by Sir Michael Barber, from the UK and Professor Peter Hill, from Australia – both respected educators. It is a think piece that raises questions about the meaning of assessment in the 21st C. where expectations for student success go beyond knowledge and technical skills and traditional educational responses are not working as well as they could. This far-ranging consideration of assessment warrants attention and discussion by anyone who is interested in what assessment might look like in the future. To this end, I have started a thread in the CAfLN Members’ Forum under the AfL In Policy and Leadership Contexts so we can get involved in questioning and contributing to what assessment might look like in the future. Have a look!!!

Embedded Formative Assessment

Embedded formative assessmentSubmitted by Robin Tierney

Embedded Formative Assessment was recommended to me by a CAfLN member in British Columbia. Dylan Wiliam’s work is well-known by educational researchers who are interested in the quality of classroom assessment. This particular book differs from many that are written by academics for practitioners in two important ways. First, the tone is engaging without sounding patronizing. Second, Wiliam offers abundant advice without aiming to script teachers’ practices. The first two chapters of the book provide background information on the importance of educational achievement and the impact of formative assessment. In the remaining chapters, five key formative assessment strategies are described along with 50 techniques for classroom use. What I really appreciate about this book, as a researcher and a teacher, is that Wiliam provides useful information for practicing formative assessment that is clearly based on both experience and research. This is a combination that other members of CAfLN with undoubtedly enjoy as well.

Dancing With A Ghost: Exploring Indian Reality

Dancing with a ghostSubmitted by Damian Cooper

My second recommendation is not an “assessment” book but one which has proven most helpful in my work with First Nations educators in BC. The book is “Dancing with a Ghost: Exploring Aboriginal Reality” by Rupert Ross. Ross has worked as an Assistant Crown Attorney in Kenora since 1985. This book has helped me understand almost all of the challenges I have faced in working with aboriginal groups: lack of immediate response, lack of eye contact, reluctance to offer input, reluctance to “try new things” …. Ross explores aboriginal values, beliefs, history, tradition, and culture as a way to help non-aboriginals understand these challenges. As the back cover notes indicate, “ … traditional perspectives have a great deal to offer modern-day Canada ….”

Grading Smarter, Not Harder

Grading Smarter not harderSubmitted by Damian Cooper

I have just read “Grading Smarter, Not Harder” by Myron Dueck. I find myself recommending it everywhere I visit, particularly in schools and districts where there is a reluctance to change assessment and grading traditions – i.e. everywhere! The power of Dueck’s book is in his firsthand experience of the change process, as both classroom teacher and administrator. The themes that emerge for me are firstly, that change is difficult and secondly, that change takes time. But Dueck raises every objection that we have all heard and responds with his own solutions.

Submitted by Ken O’Connor

I am reading Myron Dueck’s “Grading Smarter, Not Harder” again. I read it when he asked me to write the Foreword and I am enjoying it again. Still feel the same as I wrote then”

This book made me laugh and cry because the stories Myron tells about teachers and students, especially those about students, speak so powerfully to the positive impacts of assessment and grading when they are done well, and the negative impacts when they are done badly, with the latter sadly being true for most traditional assessment and grading.”