Assessment is for Learning (AifL) is an essential tool within the classroom to ensure effective planning dependent on each child’s needs and strengths. Aifl allows the teacher to determine their own next steps with regards to curriculum delivery as well as being able to work in collaboration with the pupil to determine a planned focus going forward that allows them to maximise their learning. Traditionally focus was centred on forms of summative assessment, this began to change in the late 1990s when methods of formative assessment were found to be useful in raising standards of achievement (Black and Wiliam, 1998). The ability to be a reflective practitioner is promoted and is a huge focus of Initial Teacher Education. Teachers from the beginning of their careers are primed to hone their skills of assessment and responsive teaching that is suitable and challenging for their learners.
The methods of formative assessment are numerous and children are actively encouraged to be involved in this. Peer and self-assessment are common place in primary schools and seek to engage children in their own learning and next steps. Methods such as traffic lighting completed work, Fist of Five assessment of understanding and plenaries all are tools to gauge the successes and development areas within pupil learning.
There are pitfalls associated with all areas of formative assessment and the aim of the class teacher is to gain an honest and accurate insight into pupils learning. Children have to see the relevance in what they are being asked to do and be interested enough to engage with feedback in a truly reflective way. The use of exit passes allows children to reflect on their learning immediately afterwards and asked to identify their own strengths and weaknesses as well as demonstrate knowledge and understanding through targeted questioning. This allows pupil voice in the truest sense. If the teacher uses exit passes effectively and refers back to points made in them then hopefully engagement should increase as learners feel motivated because they are being listened to and learning is personalised in some way to them as an individual. Hattie (2009) suggests that pupils are involved in the planning of their learning. Exit passes allow each child to do so by aiding the teacher in their next steps. It was decided to conduct an enquiry into the use of exit passes to provide data on whether or not they are a useful tool for teacher and pupils. The reasons for this were twofold i) they are currently a popular tool and ii) it is not a method I currently employ in the classroom.
To examine whether the use of exit passes within the classroom is an effective method of formative assessment. Do children find exit passes a useful method of self-assessment and how effective are they at informing next steps and therefore teacher planning in the short term?