Tag Archives: Checking for understanding

Blog of the Week: 26 February 2021 – Understanding Clues

As students return to schools, what are the subtle clues we can look for to check student understanding?

In just over a week, all students across the country will be returning to school – something we are all very much looking forward to. However, at the forefront of teachers’ minds will be how we are going to assess what students have understood during remote teaching, so that we can use this information to plan how we will fill these gaps. What we refer to as formative assessment.

EEF CEO Professor Becky Francis articulated this concern in June 2020:

​“Taken together, the prior literature on school closures and the growing evidence about the experience of socially disadvantaged families during …

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Blog of the Week: 17 July 2020 – Assessing learning in the new academic year (Part 2 of 2)

Having explored the different purposes for school assessment in the academic year ahead in part 1, here EEF senior associate Prof. Rob Coe looks at the role of quality assessment in helping teachers understand how best to help your pupils regain any learning lost during Covid-19 school closures.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the most high-profile topics in English education proved to be the content and aims of the school curriculum. Too often, curriculum was the subject of debate, but assessment received too little attention.

Any consideration of curriculum should be inextricably bound to understanding quality diagnostic learning assessments. If you want to use assessments to tell you whether students have learnt something, you need to be clear what it is you wanted them to learn in the first place. Clarity about the intended learning (ie, the curriculum) is crucial if we want to create or select questions for an assessment that will tell us what has been learnt.

Ideally, this includes thinking about the sequencing and anatomy of that learning. When a learning aim or task is complex, clarifying the curriculum includes identifying …

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Blog of the Week: 10 July 2020 – Assessing learning in the new academic year

Assessment – to help identify pupils’ learning gaps following Covid-19 school closures – has emerged as one of the top priorities for schools preparing for the new school year. In the first of this two-part blog, Prof. Rob Coe, senior associate at the EEF, looks at the different purposes of assessment to help teachers and school leaders think through what you want to put in place for the autumn.

Since the Covid-19 closure of schools in England to most children, there has been a lot of concern about learning loss and widening gaps. The EEF’s own rapid evidence assessment has suggested that school closures are likely to at the very least reverse progress made to close the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers since 2011.

Many teachers have suggested that when children return to ‘normal’ schooling, assessment will be crucial to identify gaps and target catch-up strategies, while others have argued that cancellation of Key Stage 2 and GCSE exams proves we can live without them and perhaps should downplay these kinds of assessments in the future. 

Assessment can certainly help to identify what students have, or have not, learnt and …

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Blog of the Week: 11 October 2019 – The #1 problem/weakness in teaching and how to address it.

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I see a lot of lessons – hundreds of them in multiple contexts – and I’m going to suggest that there is one very common challenge that teachers face that is often not addressed well enough, even by experienced teachers. In my view, it’s the single biggest reason for lessons being ineffective or certainly less effective than they could be; it’s the main reason for learning not happening, for weaker students to fall behind and, over time, for gaps to widen. The prevalence of this issue is the main reason I feel we do more to address the needs of disadvantaged students and under-achieving subgroups by trying to teach everyone better instead of chasing interventions (To address underachieving groups, teach everyone better.). There’s just so much mileage in this; so much slack to take up.

The problem is this: In a class of multiple individuals, it is not…

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