Assessment for Learning
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Royce Sadler (1998), an Australian educationalist who has long been working in the field of formative assessment, says it this way:

We need to let students into the secret, allowing them to become insiders of the assessment process. We need to make provision for them to become members of the guild of people who can make consistently sound judgments and know why those judgments are justifiable.

However, if success criteria are to be any use to students, then they need to

  • be written in language that students are likely to understand
  • be limited in number so students are not overwhelmed by the scope of the task
  • focus on the learning and not on aspects of behaviour (eg paying attention, contributing, meeting deadlines etc.)
  • be supported, where necessary, by exemplars or work samples which make their meaning clear. (This is probably particularly relevant in the case of rubrics.)
  • created, ideally, with input from students so that they have greater understanding and ownership.


  • Clarke, S, McCallum, B and Lopez-Charles, G 2001, Gillingham Partnership formative assessment project: Interim report on the first term of the project - communicating learning intentions, developing success criteria and pupil self-evaluation. (Available on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority website:¬†downloaded August 2008.)
  • Clarke, S, Timperley, H and Hattie, J 2003, Unlocking formative assessment; Practical strategies for enhancing students' learning in the primary and intermediate classroom. Hodder Moa Beckett, New Zealand.
  • Clarke, S 2005, Formative assessment in the secondary classroom, Hodder Murray, UK, ch 2.
  • Glasson, T 2009, Improving student achievement: A practical guide to Assessment for Learning, Curriculum Corporation, Carlton South, Australia, ch 2.
  • Sadler, R 1998, Letting students into the secret: Further steps in making criteria and standards work to improve learning. Paper presented at the Annual Conference for State Review Panels and District Review Panel Chairs, July 1998.