Assessments: Inform Practice or Determine Outcomes?

This week, as offers are being received for entry into schools in September, I had cause to stop and reflect on two students in particular.  Both students have received offers from highly selective schools.  But more than a year ago, when I carried out assessments on these students, my judgement that they were capable of receiving offers from their schools of choice was met with a degree of doubt by other professionals.  
 
In my work as an educational consultant, I have often come across the view that the purpose of an assessment is to determine school suitability and the future trajectory of a student’s education.  I find this such a limiting concept.  I like to think of students as having limitless potential that can be unlocked by those who work with them.  
 
Research supports the idea that the idea children can and do change with the right support and encouragement.  Assessment should be used as a tool to determine current attainment levels against goals, and then used to guide and inform the learning process.  This requires designing assessments that go beyond simply gauging whether a correct or incorrect answer has been achieved.
 
For my two students more than a year ago, if I had accepted the view that they were too far behind compared to their peers to have success on the 7+ exams, I would have closed that door for them and limited their potential.  Instead, these students were nurtured through a learning journey that allowed then not only to succeed but to thrive.  

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