Diagnostic assessment occurs periodically, at sensible points in programmes of learning. Diagnostic assessment consists of a blend of low and high tariff questions, determined by the assessment focus. It may draw on carefully crafted multiple choice questions or short-answer questions that highlight misconceptions. It may elicit information about understanding from a carefully scaffolded extended task. Whatever the method or mixture of methods, diagnostic assessment has explicit criteria that can be marked discretely.
A diagnostic assessment is a mastery assessment. It is not just testing for the sake of testing. Done well, it provides our teachers with clear evidence of strengths and areas for development which can inform planning and next steps.
Diagnostic assessment is always followed by a ‘whole class feedback’ activity (often called ‘Directed Improvement and Reflection Time’). This is because assessment is intrinsically linked to curriculum and pedagogy – it is the start of a conversation, not the end.