Submitting InstitutionKing's College London
Unit of AssessmentEducation
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education
Summary of the impact
As a direct result of research carried out at King's, formative
assessment, or assessment for learning, has become a central feature of
how UK teachers interact with learners in the classroom in order to
support their progression. The findings of six research and development
studies have led to guidance aimed directly at, and used by, teachers.
They have fed directly into national policies (including Making Good
Progress and Assessing Pupil Progress) and informed guidance
circulated to all schools in England. Similar initiatives informed by the
research have been implemented in Wales, Scotland and overseas.
Recommendations from the studies have also informed initial teacher
training standards in the UK and the policy of professional teaching
bodies. The research is widely used in teacher training.
The research underpinning this case study has re-defined and popularised
the concept of `formative assessment', giving a central role to assessment
for learning in contrast to assessment of learning
(summative assessment). An initial review in 1998 of research on classroom
practices and their impact on pupils' learning  demonstrated the
efficacy of assessment for learning, but also showed that implementation
was poorly understood. This led to a programme of development work with
teachers to refine proposals for implementing innovations and to generate
evidence from the teachers about their impact. Further research, funded by
the Nuffield Foundation  and the US National Science Foundation ,
involved the collaboration of researchers, teachers and local authorities
in investigating how assessment for learning ideas could be implemented
. These studies provided further quantitative evidence of the efficacy
of formative assessment, described the relationship between formative and
summative assessment, examined the application of formative assessment in
practice across a number of curricular areas and contexts, articulated the
barriers to its implementation and outlined the professional development
and support necessary to overcome these.
In addition, the studies provided a model for research-based guidance and
professional development for teachers  and described ways in which
research and dissemination could be integrated . Subsequent studies
funded by the ESRC / TLRP programme  and the States of Jersey  have
further developed the theoretical underpinning of formative assessment
 and demonstrated the ways in which its practice differs between
subjects, highlighting the need for teachers to have guidance on the
application of formative assessment within specific subjects  without
which teachers tend to implement formative assessment as a series of
techniques rather than in a principled way .
The research into the effectiveness of these implementations also made
clear the need to develop practice in related fields, including dialogue
in classrooms, group work for peer-assessment, aspects of personalised
learning such as self-regulated learning, and engaging with pupils'
self-concepts as learners .
References to the research
 Black, Wiliam (PIs) (1998-2000). King's Medway Oxfordshire
Formative Assessment Project (KMOFAP). Nuffield Foundation: £70,000.
 (2000-1). Black (PI) CAPITAL project (KMOFAP extension). US
National Science Foundation (NSF) (via Stanford University): £133,000
(£35,000 to King's).
 Black, Harrison (PIs) (2002-4). Assessment is for Learning.
SEED Scotland: £19,500.
 Black, Harrison (PIs) (2003). Science Assessment Review.
Royal Society: £97,000.
 Black, Harrison (PIs) (2004). Identifying best practice in
formative assessment at Key Stage 3. Department for Children,
Families and Schools (DCSF): £8,900.
 Harrison (PI) (2004). Implementing formative assessment.
States of Jersey: £49,200.
 Harrison (PI) (2005-6). King's Oxfordshire Summative Assessment
Project (KOSAP), Phase 1. DCSF: £40,000.
 Harrison (PI) (2006-7). KOSAP, Phase 2. Nuffield Foundation:
 Black, Marshall (CIs) (Lead institution: Institute of Education)
(2001-5). Learning how to learn in classrooms, schools and networks.
ESRC (TLRP): £917,040.
 Black (CI) (Lead institution: Cardiff University) (2006-7). Assessment
of Significant Learning Outcomes (ASLO). ESRC: £16,900.
Key peer-reviewed publications: [hard copies are available on
 Black, P. J., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom
learning. Assessment in Education, 5 (1), 7-73. (Peer-reviewed
journal & original review of research peer-reviewed by Assessment
 Black, P. J., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D.
(2003). Assessment for learning: putting It into practice.
Buckingham: Open University Press.
 Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (2009) Developing the theory of formative
assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability,
21 (1), 5-31. Doi: 10.1007/s11092-008-9068-5
 Black, P. J., & Wiliam, D. (2003). `In praise of educational
research': Formative assessment. British Educational Research Journal,
29 (5), 623-638.
 Hodgen, J., & Marshall, B. (2005). Assessment for learning in
English and mathematics: a comparison. The Curriculum Journal, 16
(2), 153-176. Doi: 10.1080/09585170500135954
 Marshall, B., & Drummond, M. J. (2006). How teachers engage with
Assessment for Learning: lessons from the classroom. Research Papers
in Education, 21 (2), 133-149. Doi: 10.1080/02671520600615638
Details of the impact
By re-positioning formative assessment as central to pedagogy and linking
it to classroom dialogue, questioning and student interactions for the
first time, and by demonstrating how classroom assessment can be used to
adapt teaching to the needs of students, the research has led to changes
in the way teachers conceptualise classroom practice. This impact has been
achieved by the researchers working directly with both teachers and policy
From the outset, impact and dissemination formed a central component in
the design of the research programme (see Black & Wiliam, 2003 
for a description and discussion), and communicating directly to teachers
and other practitioners through publications and workshops has played a
key role in building support from the ground up for a change in assessment
policy. The researchers produced a widely disseminated set of
evidence-based publications for teachers which draw extensively on the
reports of teachers who collaborated on the development work. The book, Assessment
for Learning: putting it into practice  has sold over 36,000
copies (over 10,000 since 2008). A series of short (25-page A5) booklets
have complemented this book: two — Inside the Black Box and Working
Inside the Black Box — have each sold over 55,000 copies (25,000 in
total since 2008), whilst a set of eight booklets each dealing with the
application of formative assessment within a particular school subject
have also sold well (35,000 total sales since 2008). Our returns from the
Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society
(ALCS) show that these documents are being copied extensively and the
booklets are used widely on initial teacher training courses (e.g.,
University of Edinburgh place two of the booklets on their online
repository for PGCE students each academic year).
In addition, the researchers have undertaken an extensive series of
workshops for teachers and other professionals examining how formative
assessment can be implemented effectively. For example, Black has
conducted whole and half-day INSET programmes for individual schools, to
kick-start a process of collaborative development for the whole school, in
over 85 schools, 24 since 2008. Harrison has been a paid consultant to
three local authorities since 2008 (Carmarthen County Council, Ceredigion
County Council, and Hammersmith), conducting 60 workshops with their
teachers and giving 14 lectures to other local authorities and 42
workshops to individual schools, together with additional workshop talks
to Association of Science Education annual and regional meetings, the
Field Studies Council and the National Union of Teachers. Beyond schools,
King's staff have responded to numerous invitations to talk about this
work to many other organisations, including local authorities, teachers'
subject associations, and a range of commercial agencies involved in INSET
for teachers. There have been over 40 such invitations since 2008, and
many more in the preceding years. Broader dissemination has involved the
media, with six radio broadcasts, two hour-long programmes on BBC2 in
September 2010 and two programmes for Teachers' TV.
A second strand of impact work was directed towards national educational
policy. Judy Sebba, then Department for Children, Schools and Families
(DCSF) Chief Advisor on Standards, was on the Steering Committee of the
Nuffield-funded KMOFAP study and was a key broker in disseminating the
research within government. Additionally, the researchers engaged think
tanks such as DEMOS (Skidmore, 2003) and IPPR (Brooks & Tough, 2006)
and King's staff have made submissions (including invited submissions) to
various official committees and groups. As a result, the assessment for
learning work made a fundamental contribution to national assessment
policies: Personalised Learning, Making Good Progress and
Assessing Pupils' Progress, with £150m provided in 2008 to support
the implementation of these policies [17, 18]. For example, `Assessment
for Learning' was one of five strands comprising Making Good Progress
(MGP). In an independent evaluation conducted from 2007 to 2009,
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP found that their interviewees (teachers,
headteachers, local authority coordinators and parents) believed the
Assessment for Learning strand to have had the greatest impact of all five
strands on teacher practice, pupil engagement and rates of progression
Several DCSF publications describe how assessment for learning underlay
the Assessing Pupils' Progress (APP) initiative (2008-2010)
[e.g., 26]. In their evaluation of this initiative, OFSTED found that APP
was most successful when it formed part of a strong vision of teaching,
learning and assessment and when linked to the formative assessment
strategies of identifying and explaining objectives, questioning pupils
and giving feedback . The research has also had an impact on the
professional development and policy of professional bodies in the UK. For
example, drawing heavily on the formative assessment research [11, 12],
`Assessment and professional judgement' was one of just two principal
professional development foci of the General Teaching Council for England
until it was disbanded in 2011. And the revised Teachers' Standards
(DfE 2012) in England require teachers to use formative assessment to
secure pupil progress.
The work has had a particularly strong impact on education policy in
Scotland where the assessment practices currently in place have been
directly shaped by the King's research. Following a policy seminar by
Wiliam in 2002, the Scottish Ministry decided that the research should
underpin Scotland's education strategy for schools. Harrison worked
alongside Scottish civil servants, educationalists and academics to help
plan, and then to lead, the national implementation in a programme
modelled on that rolled-out in England. The strategy included teachers
from the English projects cascading the approach across to their Scottish
colleagues . Subsequent independent evaluations have shown that this
was the most successful of the several innovative programmes introduced by
the Education Authority. The programme was fully in place throughout the
2008-2013 period, with continuing professional development provided by
Learning and Teaching Scotland and its successor, Education Scotland.
Nevertheless, the programme had weaknesses  and Black has contributed
to its evaluation and refocusing, particularly highlighting the
relationship between summative and formative assessment and how this can
be developed . In a similar project, commencing in 2004, the King's
group helped develop the school assessment policies and practices in the
States of Jersey. The value of these was recognised in the States of
Jersey Annual Business Plan, 2008  and they have been in operation
throughout the REF assessment period.
Beyond the UK, King's staff have provided consultancy based on the
research in Sweden, Norway, Holland, Portugal, Italy, Slovenia, Macedonia,
Peru, Chile, Australia, the Republic of Ireland, Estonia and to the EU. As
a result of the consultancy work in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the
research is featured prominently on the government sites in these
countries as a means of supporting and guiding the implementation of
formative assessment (e.g., see the Australian Assessment for Learning
website ). In the US the work is one of the few pieces of non-US
research to have influenced education debates among policy-makers. Inside
the Black Box was re-published in the influential US professional
journal, Phi Delta Kappan (1998), and re-published as a `Kappan
Classic' (2010) with an editorial comment that it has, `helped change the
conversation in education'. The same booklet was translated for
distribution to all schools in Hong Kong to support the implementation of
the Education Bureau's policy on assessment for learning . Hodgen's
UNESCO-funded consultancy in the Maldives (2010) led to the introduction
of a formative assessment toolkit in schools and the inclusion of the
`improve[ment] of formative assessment carried out during lessons' as one
of five objectives in the country's school improvement plan . In
addition, the book and booklets have been translated widely, including
into Swedish (with sales of >2000 of the Swedish translation of Mathematics
Inside the Black Box booklet) and Polish.
Sources to corroborate the impact
Documents and webpages: [hard copies are available on request]
 DCSF. (2008a). The Assessment for Learning Strategy.
 DCSF. (2008b). Personalised Learning: A Practical Guide.
Nottingham: DCSF Publications.
 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. (2010). Evaluation of the Making
Good Progress Pilot. Final Report DCSF-RR184. Nottingham: Department
for Children, Schools and Families.
 The States of Jersey Annual Business Plan 2008:
 Maldives School Improvement Plan 2010:
 Hong Kong Assessment for Learning: http://www.edb.gov.hk/en/curriculum-development/assessment/assessment-for-learning/assessment-for-learning-resource-bank-references.html
 States, Territories and Commonwealth of Australia Assessment for
Learning website: http://www.assessmentforlearning.edu.au/research_background/research_background_landing.html
 Hayward, L., Menter, I., Baumfield, V., Daugherty, R., Akhtar, N.,
& Doyle, W. (2012). Assessment at transition. Glasgow:
University of Glasgow.
 Black, P. (February 2008). Invited (confidential) evaluation of a
Review of Curriculum Change for the Scottish Education Department, and
Black, P. (January 2012). Invited review of new issues in assessment for
the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
 DCSF. (2009). AfL with APP: developing collaborative
school-based approaches. Guidance for senior leaders. London: DCSF.
 OFSTED. (2011). The impact of the `Assessing pupils' progress'
initiative. London: OFSTED.
Former Senior Advisor, National Strategies, England. [Impact on teaching
and learning in England.]
Chair, Advisory Council, Board of Learning & Teaching Scotland.
[Development and implementation of AfL in Scotland.]
Officer in charge of Secondary Education, States of Jersey. [Impact on
assessment policy and practice in States of Jersey.]
Advisory Teacher, Ceredigion County Council. [Development and
implementation of AfL in Wales.] Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of
Waikato, New Zealand. [Impact on policy & practice in NZ.]