Assessment for Learning testing and recording
Are there no tests at all?
Teachers who are using AfL will almost certainly do some tests for spelling, times tables, mental maths, reading comprehension etc. However, AfL doesn't rely on tests for information about the child's learning.
Instead, teachers will use test outcomes to confirm what they know and to raise questions: if the test doesn't confirm the teacher's expectations of a child's learning, the teacher will look carefully at the test result and analyse what the test shows that is surprising. In this way, tests can be used to identify next steps for learning.
One way of thinking about the difference between AfL and tests is that tests look backwards - they assess what the child has already learned; AfL looks forwards - it describes what the next steps are in a child's learning. The two different approaches can be used side by side and inform each other.
How is AfL recorded?
Even the best teacher needs some way to record some of the information that they hold in their head, or it can become hard to remember what progress is being made.
All schools will have some method of recording progress. Many use Assessing Pupil Progress (APP). There is a freely downloadable APP grid for each area of English and maths. Teachers simply highlight and date statements on the grid to show how children make progress. The statements on the grids also indicate what the next targets might be.
By using grids like this, teachers can monitor both current attainment and the speed of a child's progress.