About the International Symposium

Overview of International Symposium on
Classroom Assessment and Assessment for Learning

What is the purpose?

The International Symposium on Classroom Assessment and Assessment for Learning (AfL) is intended as a forum where academics and practitioners gather to share their work, ideas, projects, and what they consider to be the best practices on classroom assessment and more specifically formative assessment under three broad umbrellas – policy, professional learning and research.

The Symposium’s vision, as conceived by Rick Stiggins (2001; 2004) was also reflected in the agenda of the first and second International Symposia on Classroom Assessment:

  • Share our newest and most compelling understandings of best classroom assessment practices as they are evolving across our diverse cultures; accumulate and organize those best practices for broad dissemination
  • Identify the most effective ways to bring sound assessment practice into every classroom through effective teacher development
  • Identify the most effective ways to influence policy and resource allocation decisions to encourage and support teacher development in sound classroom assessment practice
  • Devise specific plans for promoting sound policy, assuring appropriate resource allocation, and supporting teacher development, both pre- and in-service

Who is involved?

The Symposium gathers teams of experts from five different countries (Canada, U.S.A., United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia) and Continental Europe. Each country leader invites members to join the country team knowing that the four or five spots needs to reflect many aspects of the field including practitioners, researchers and policy makers. In 2014 independent delegates were also invited from Singapore and there are plans to continue to slowly expand to involve delegates from more countries while not jeopardizing the ‘working group’ nature of the gathering.

Where and when do meetings take place?

Those objectives have remained constant and have set the agenda for several years. The four Symposia held so far are the following:

  • Chester, UK (September 12th-15th, 2001), organized by Ruth Sutton, UK & Rick Stiggins, U.S.A.
  • Portland, U.S.A. (September 12th-15th, 2005), organized by Rick Stiggins and Dylan Wiliam, U.S.A. (co-sponsored by Educational Testing Service and Assessment Training Institute)
  • Queenstown & Dunedin, New Zealand (March 15th-21st, 2009), organized by Terry Crooks and the University of Dunedin
  • Bergen and Solstrand, Norway (June 16th-18th, 2011) organized by Kari Smith and the University of Bergen, Norway
  • Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada (April 8 – 12, 2014) organized by Anne Davies, connect2learning.com, Dany Laveault, University of Ottawa, and Ann Sherman, University of New Brunswick.

While each Symposia has remained faithful to the original objectives and have been organized along the same previous principles, they have evolved along two dimensions:

  • New Zealand and Norway Symposia were coordinated with a one-day conference opened to a larger audience of educators. This format took advantage of the presence of well-known scholars to disseminate the results of the best research and practices on assessment for learning and classroom assessment to educators of the hosting country.
  • In Fredericton, New Brunswick the International Symposium was also accompanied by a pan-Canadian Symposium facilitated by Sandra Herbst, connect2learning.com and a Canada-wide conference held at the University of New Brunswick, Friday, April 11& Saturday, April 12, 2014 with almost 250 attendees. There were also eight doctoral students invited to observe the proceedings and engage in a seminar under the leadership of Dr. Sherry Rose, University of New Brunswick and Dr. Leo MacDonald, University of St. Francis Xavier.

What outcomes result from the gatherings?

In addition to powerful conversations and dialogue during the gatherings among the 36 delegates present, the symposia have also resulted in some collaborative products including, for example:

  • Allal, L. et Laveault, D. (2009). Évaluation-soutien d’apprentissage. Prise de position formulée par la Troisième Conférence internationale sur l’Évaluation-soutien d’Apprentissage. Mesure et évaluation en éducation, 32(2), 99-107. (This paper is a translation of the Dunedin position paper).
  • Third International Conference on Assessment for Learning (2009). Position Paper on Assessment for Learning. Dunedin, New Zealand. Available on the web at : http://www.fairtest.org/position-paper-assessment-learning (Result of the Dunedin symposium).
  • Brookhart, S. (Symposium leader). (May, 2010). Invited session on International Perspectives on Assessment and Assessment Research. Denver, CO : AERA, Division D – Measurement and Research Methodology. (Result of the Dunedin Symposium involving nine of the participants)
  • P. Peterson, E. Baker and B. McGaw (Eds.) (2010). The International Encyclopedia of Education, (3rd Edition). London, UK : Elsevier (Several papers are from participants at the symposium such as Linda Allal, Dany Laveault, Anne Davies, etc).
  • C. Wyatt-Smith, V. Klenowski and P. Colbert (Eds.) (in press). The Enabling Power of Assessment The Netherlands: Springer. (Result of the Solstrand 2011 meeting).
  • And more publications and projects are planned as a result of the Fredericton, NB events in April 2014.

What is next?

The Australian team has tentatively invited the gathering to meet in Australia in 2016.


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