The Impact of an Assessment for Learning Teacher Professional Development Programme on Student Learning

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Assessment for Learning (AfL) is a promising educational innovation. AfL refers to forms of assessment focused on generating feedback on the performance of students in order to improve their learning (Sadler, 1998).

However, teachers still find it difficult to implement AfL in their classroom, and as a result AfL does not always lead to improved student achievement (Heitink et al., 2016; Kippers et al., 2017). Teachers need professional development (TPD) to support them in developing and implementing AfL in their classrooms.


The effectiveness of a TPD programme on AfL was evaluated by investigating its impact on student achievement.

Theoretical framework

In AfL, three formative questions are answered by teachers and their students: “Where is the learner going?”, “where is the learner now?”, and “how is the learner going there?”. When these three formative questions are answered in a coherent way, AfL can result in better student achievement (e.g., Black & Wiliam, 1998).

Teachers need intertwined, complex competences to answer these questions effectively (Heitink et al., 2016). The Dynamic Approach (DA) towards TPD programmes can be suitable to help teachers develop these competencies (Creemers, et al. 2013). The core principle of the DA is that it specifically stimulates teaching skills that have proven their effectiveness on student learning, such as AfL. In addition, in the DA, the content of the PD programme is adjusted to the different stages of professional needs that teachers can have when developing AfL (Christoforidou et al., 2014).

Methods and data sources

A total of 73 mathematics teachers was randomly assigned to the experimental group (i.e., the TPD programme) or the control group. The TPD programme included five sessions, the first one took place in September 2019 and the last one was planned in April 2020. However, due to COVID-19, we had to reschedule the last session to September 2020. This also caused a drop-out of 20 teachers and 700 students.

Mathematics tests were developed and validated (N = 393) for the purpose of this study. These tests included 11 exercises, which were aligned to the curriculum of the students. The mathematics tests were administered before and after the TPD programme took place (N = 1400).


The analysis of the data is currently undertaken. Using IRT techniques, it was possible to test the validity of the battery of tests and generate scores of student achievement in mathematics at the beginning and at the end of the intervention. Some preliminary results show that the intervention had a statistically significant effect on student achievement gains in mathematics. Multilevel SEM analysis will help us find out whether the intervention had an effect on achievement through improving the assessment skills of teachers.

Scholarly significance and link to conference theme

The project identifies to what extent the DA to teacher professional development can be beneficial for improving teacher AfL-skills, and to what degree AfL can improve student outcomes. These findings can be used as input for the development of policies for improving assessment practice, and, through that, student learning outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event34th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, ICSEI 2021: Crossing Boundaries and Building Bridges - online , Auckland, New Zealand
Duration: 8 Mar 202118 Mar 2021
Conference number: 34


Conference34th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, ICSEI 2021
Abbreviated titleICSEI 2021
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
Internet address


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