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ACER UK’s Perspective on Formative Assessment

by Helen Claydon, Head of Test Development ACER UK and Ilhan Farah, Corporate Communications Officer, ACER UK

ACER is one of the world’s leading educational research organisations and has been providing reliable support and expertise to educational policy makers and practitioners since 1930. We are proud to be sponsoring the 2021 ‘Best Formative Assessment Project’ award, since the remit of the award is so closely aligned with our mission to create and promote research-based knowledge, products and services that improve learning across the lifespan.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on many aspects of life for people around the world. Children’s schooling has been significantly affected, with school closures and the introduction of virtual home schooling. This experience will have affected children and their educational progress in a variety of ways.

The pandemic has highlighted the crucial role that formative assessment can play in monitoring and informing learning in a flexible way. Now, more than ever, assessments can provide teachers with a means of measuring where their students are in their learning in order to inform the next steps in their teaching after returning from school closures.

To quote ACER’s CEO Geoff Masters: “The fundamental purpose of assessment is to establish where learners are in their learning at the time of the assessment.”
Reforming Educational Assessment, Australian Education Review no. 57

Formative assessments are equally valuable if they are nationwide assessments, or assessments that schools or local authorities choose to implement themselves such as the Scottish Online Formative Assessments provided by ACER. Online assessment delivery provides the ideal means for administering formative assessments. Automated marking of responses can generate instantly available reports, which collate information across groups of learners to immediately highlight areas of strength and pinpoint those needing further development within cohorts, groups or individuals.

At ACER, we have been active in continuing to offer formative e-assessments as well as in adapting those that were previously paper-based to e-delivery in response to the changing landscape that we are all working in. In Scotland we have seen a number of teachers choosing to administer the Scottish National Standardised Assessments earlier than in previous years, in recognition that these formative assessments can help to provide information on the learning profiles of the children and young people in their class, which has been of particular interest following extended periods of school closure.

About ACER

ACER has built a strong reputation as a provider of reliable support and expertise to education policymakers and professional practitioners since it was established in 1930. ACER is an international leader in innovative and effective assessments, providing and designing assessment platforms, reporting tools and services for schools, universities, health professionals, employers, and governments across the world. We create and promote research-based knowledge, products and services that can be used to improve learning across the lifespan. We work closely with governments, schools and universities in the UK, international aid agencies, and research or not-for-profit organisations such as RAND, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office UK and the Scottish Government.

ACER provides bespoke assessment services powered by over 90 years of educational research, accommodating to all learners with the aim of improving learning across the lifespan. We have a large team of experienced assessment developers, which means we are able to focus on creating ideal assessment offerings with consideration to the learner and their life experiences. ACER also has substantial experience of working with other assessment providers, in many countries, to develop their assessment development expertise.

Visit the ACER website here