Embedding Formative Assessment (EFA) is a whole-school professional development programme aiming to embed the use of effective formative assessment strategies. Dylan Wiliam and Siobhan Leahy, who are experts in formative assessment, designed the intervention and associated materials. The Schools, Students and Teachers network (SSAT), an independent membership organisation, delivered the project.
Schools received detailed resource packs to run monthly workshops known as Teacher Learning Communities (TLCs). Each TLC was expected to last 75–90 minutes. All teaching staff were involved and split into groups comprising 8–14 people. TLC agendas and materials focused on five key formative assessment strategies: ‘clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions’; ‘engineering effective classroom discussions and activities’; ‘providing feedback that moves learning forward’; ‘activating learners as instructional resources for one another’; and ‘activating learners as owners of their own learning’. Within each of these high-level concepts, the TLC handouts introduced multiple formative assessment techniques for teachers to consider.
In-between workshop sessions, teachers were expected to conduct peer lesson observations and provide feedback to each other. Each school appointed a lead teacher who attended an initial training day and received ongoing implementation support from an SSAT Lead Practitioner. This included a mixture of visits, phone calls, e-mails, and access to an online community.
The project was a randomised controlled trial. It was an effectiveness trial, which tested whether the intervention worked under everyday conditions in a large number of schools. One hundred and forty secondary schools participated during the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 academic years. The primary outcome was Attainment 8 GCSE scores for the 25,393 pupils who were in Year 10 (aged 14–15) at the start of the trial. The process evaluation involved a combination of methods, including interviews, focus groups, surveys of intervention and control schools, and observations of the launch day, some TLCs, and the celebration day.
The project was independently evaluated by a team from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.