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Bottom up or top down? AFL and ECM and their implications for school improvement AAIA Annual Conference 2006 A contribution from Ruth Sutton.

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Presentation on theme: "Bottom up or top down? AFL and ECM and their implications for school improvement AAIA Annual Conference 2006 A contribution from Ruth Sutton."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bottom up or top down? AFL and ECM and their implications for school improvement AAIA Annual Conference 2006 A contribution from Ruth Sutton

2 Interesting ideas, pity about the title What am I trying to do?  Compare and contrast the long- standing principles of Assessment for Learning to the new kid on the block, Every Child Matters  Consider the implications of this and other developments for the way schools do business, and how we can best support them

3 AFL and ECM: different origins Assessment for Learning: the confluence of a number of streams of thought and practice over the past twenty years and more:  a shift towards more specific expected outcomes and assessment criteria, mainly driven by public accountability but of significance for learners and teachers too  recognition that only learners can improve learning  recognition of the link between motivation and achievement  survival through the tempests of National Curriculum requirements and testing, and what we learned from the experience  an increasing and powerful body of global research on how assessment links to learning

4 AFL : long-term and bottom-up  Strategies developing in real classrooms over a long period  Patchy, intuitive, much influenced by the cultures of different schools  Sometimes distracted by external imperatives, and sometimes encouraged by them  Very few teachers who adopt AFL strategies go back to what they did before: there’s something in it for the teachers as well as the students

5 ECM: reactive and top-down  Intrinsic appeal of ‘joined-upness’  Emotional impact of major failures in our care of very vulnerable children  Government always alert to ‘zeitgeist’ and capturing the moral high ground  Long-standing anxiety among both main English parties about ‘controlling’ educators and LEAs

6 The Disunited Kingdom on Education Policy  Very striking recent divergence on assessment policy in different parts of the UK  Welsh Assembly very keen to distance itself from assessment approaches in England and follow a research-driven path  Scotland well ahead of England and Wales on assessment approach over the past decade and drawing further away all the time  Why has the English Cabinet’s allegiance to testing and league tables remained so strong?  Time to examine the influence of Lord Adonis who has now outlasted several Education ministers, and whose days – hopefully – are as numbered as his mate Tony’s

7 Was Blair’s thinking influenced by his buddy in the USA? 2002 US federal legislation “No Child Left Behind” 4 ‘pillars’ Stronger accountability for results More local freedom Proven education methods More choice for parents Strong and continued opposition from professional educators and researchers

8 ECM as motherhood and apple pie Who could argue with this? The ECM goal: “Every child, whatever their background or their circumstances, will have the support they need to:  Be healthy  Stay safe  Enjoy and achieve  Make a positive contribution  Achieve economic well- being”

9 Only connect….. ECM themes  Be healthy  Stay safe  Enjoy and achieve  Make a positive contribution  Achieve economic well- being Assessment Reform Group: 10 principles (2002) AFL should…  Be part of effective planning  Focus on how students learn  Be central to classroom practice  Be a key professional skill  Be sensitive and constructive as any assessment has an emotional impact  Take account of the importance of learner motivation  Promote commitment to learning goals and a shared understanding of the criteria  Recognise the full range of achievement for all learners Learners should receive constructive guidance about how to improve AFL develops learners’ capacity for self-assessment so that they can become reflective and self-managing

10 Powerful common underpinning themes The work of Carol Dweck, published after the Black and Wiliam 1998 study was complete and therefore not included. Dylan Wiliam regards this work as central to the AFL canon

11 Self Theories: The work of Carol Dweck  This researcher starts with the psychology of learning and motivation  The details of her book:  Self Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development  Psychology Press, 1999  ISBN (paper)

12 Fundamental question  Do you believe that intelligence is something you are born with and which cannot be increased through work and effort?  Or do you believe that you can add to the intelligence you have inherited, by effort and learning new things?  Responses to this question are closely related to young people’s motivation, confidence, resilience and emotional well being

13 How beliefs about ‘intelligence’ affect learning and motivation  People who believe that their ‘cleverness’ is fixed tend to assume that failure is the end of learning and give up quickly, while others see it as an opportunity to learn more and persevere  If you don’t expect to make progress, you find success only in comparisons with others, not striving for your own ‘personal best’

14 Can interventions help? Yes  We help students to understand how their brains work, and that the brain develops through challenge and struggle  We use practice and repetition to instil new habits of learning  We show students regularly how their work is improving, to demonstrate that perseverance brings results  We clarify expectations, restore a sense of control and coach students to exercise greater responsibility for their own learning improvement  We start these strategies early, and keep them going, to reduce the potential damage of ‘failing cool’

15 Intrinsic motivation: the key features for teachers and schools as well as students Self efficacy Feedback for Self Awareness Locus of control - As close to self as possible Motivation Achievement

16 The irony The government’s interpretation of AFL, now captured as part of ‘Personalised Learning’, has a different slant Government’s interpretation of Assessment for Learning is really Assessment for Teaching, with the focus on gathering and using assessment data to plan teaching Fine as far as it goes, BUT it does not include the student-centred elements that most strongly connect AFL with ECM

17 ECM into practice: the most immediate consequences  Merging of LA Education Departments into ‘Children’s Services’  Title of the new OFSTED process Is this enough to warrant the fanfares? Does the Emperor actually have any clothes?

18 The structures of education  ECM challenges, yet again, the role envisaged by Government for local agencies  The LEA is already dead, transformed into an LA  What is gained and lost through the merging of Education Departments into Children’s Services departments?

19 ECM and OFSTED  How has the ECM agenda affected schools’ approach to the SEF and the inspection itself?  Think, pair, share

20 How can our expertise help schools?  We share our data analysis skills so widely and so well that the schools don’t need us for that purpose any more  We think big, all the time, and apply AFL principles to assessment at all levels of School Self Review– students, teachers, school leaders and the schools themselves  We advocate for ‘Student Voice’  We encourage planning for learning not planning for coverage  We respect adult learning principles in all PD opportunities we offer: choice, recognition of prior experience, respect for different learning styles  We must communicate so well with parents in England, and especially in London, that they begin to demand what the rest of the UK is already developing – AFL as the cornerstone of learning and teaching in every school, uncluttered by the testing imperatives still dominant in this country

21 The plethora of initiatives  We need to cherry-pick  Identify any bits of current ‘initiatives’ that support real learning for students and teachers, link them to what’s already there, and leave the rest in the freezer  If you ever need the stuff in the freezer, use your microwave to warm it up quick  More likely, when it’s past its use-by date and nobody’s missed it, throw it away

22 AFL principles have stood the test of time AFL should… Be part of effective planning Focus on how students learn Be central to classroom practice Be a key professional skill Be sensitive and constructive as any assessment has an emotional impact Take account of the importance of learner motivation Promote commitment to learning goals and a shared understanding of the criteria Recognise the full range of achievement for all learners Learners should receive constructive guidance about how to improve AFL develops learners’ capacity for self-assessment so that they can become reflective and self-managing

23 AFL is here to stay  A continuing focus on the principles of Assessment for Learning is our goal, even if we call it by a different name  It’s about changing the habits of teaching and the way classrooms and schools do business  Like any other change of habit, it requires practice, repetition and perseverance

24 Brain theory and habits: The 3 part brain  The neo-cortex: useful for assignments  The reptilian brain: useful for Saturday nights  The limbic brain: useful for changing habits

25 From ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’  The practices of teaching and schooling are deeply ingrained or ‘hard-wired’  Habits are formed and changed in the limbic brain not the neo-cortex  They can only be changed through the limbic brain, by ‘Practice, feedback, practice’

26 Changing habits – according to ‘Addiction Theory’ (Proshaska)  Pre-contemplation  Contemplation  First step  Discomfort and floundering  Practice  Confidence  New habit  Coach someone else

27 The Weightwatchers’ Model of change  The Weight-watchers model for improving teaching involves: Big, important, agreed goals Small steps and continual feedback Perseverance Collegial support and accountability Recognition of success

28 Some suggestions for AAIA  Keep a constant check on the balance between playing on the policy pitch and screaming from the sidelines, or even the stands  Use every strategic opportunity to influence the next generation of policy advisers, assuming that Adonis will go when Blair does  Keep an eye on the issue of Rights and Responsibilities and the links between policy and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of Alan Johnson’s pet issues

29 A hard row to hoe  When your employment is linked to the financing and delivery of specific initiatives, it’s hard to find any wiggle room  It takes courage, confidence and careful tactical thinking to maintain any autonomy at all and keep our eyes on the longer term prize

30 And now for something completely different…….. To the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’, in four parts  Clear objectives help our students  With their work, with their work  Then they need great feedback, ideas for improvement  For success, for success

31  Thanks again for the invitation  New book on the Winnipeg experience due out next month from Portage and Main Press September 13 th 2006


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