Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. It is a way of measuring what learners can do, know and understand. At an informal level, assessing is the judgement that teachers and learners make about the learner’s work, supported by the teacher’s questioning and discussion. This on-going ‘formative’ assessment lies at the heart of teaching and learning, and is sometimes referred to as assessment for learning (AFL). In this kind of assessment learners are fully involved in the learning process, understanding what they need to learn and being encouraged through skilful questioning and feedback to reflect on their own learning, as well as that of their peers. Progress is reviewed and teachers and learners decide what needs to be done next.
Formative assessment is complemented by ‘summative’ assessment, or assessment ‘of’ learning. At this formal level, learners are assessed by performing to others or by taking examinations. This type of assessment can be useful for reporting overall progress in skills, knowledge and understanding.
Musical judgements of a qualitative nature cannot always be captured neatly in marks and grades, and caution should be exercised. Assessing performances by a particular set of criteria may not necessarily convey the whole picture. Sometimes performances go beyond criteria and are more than the sum of the individual parts.
Teachers, Music Services/Hubs and other organisations may wish to use the learning objectives in A Common Approach to create an overview of what learners are expected to achieve through each Programme of Study. This can be useful for the teacher in terms of assessing progress and planning future work, and can also help give a structure to formal feedback produced for parents/carers or schools. Statements could be created using language that is accessible to learners, in order to encourage them to self-reflect on their progress.