Assessment in art, craft and design has two principal functions in the support of marking, reporting and feedback.

Firstly, it involves evaluating and making a judgement of learners’ knowledge, understanding, skills, creative and artistic development from within a period of learning i.e. project, unit of work, or by a point in the term or year.

This will be evaluated using age-related criteria, typically set out within a national or regional ‘standard’. 

This judgment best describes summative assessment, which is typically made at the end of a project, unit of study, end of term, end of year or for the purpose of feedback to students and parents e.g. annual subject report.

This is perceived as objective, but as identified earlier, it will inevitably be somewhat subjective, because there are no right or wrong answers and we cannot separate the personal taste and views of the assessor from the assessment. 

There are three points of clarification to note: 

  1. By the ‘standard’ we mean the evidence of learning visible in the quality of the work. In art and design, we evaluate the evidence of the learning process and the outcome, using both to inform an assessment of the standard (expressed as a grade, level, standard statement, or alpha-numerical mark). Such a standard is usually ‘norm-referenced', although with criteria to clarify and more clearly define the expected norm. 
  2. Any national or regional ‘standard’ may or may not include visual exemplars, with art educator and student notes to exemplify the objectivity of the standard criteria to support teachers’ best and most accurate assessment practice. In England, for example, Ofsted references a ‘national standard’ in schools and teachers are expected to know what the standard is for each year group at any point in time and in the context of any medium, process and technique.
    • Examinations or formal assessments also function in this way and result in a mark, grade or statement.
    • These assessments tend to be gathered at key points in the year and recorded on data-tracking systems to record, monitor and report standards for subject leader, line managers and senior leader’s oversight.  
  3. It is always helpful for primary teachers to participate in local discussions about standards to support their confidence and accuracy in understanding assessment standards. As subject specialists, secondary department teams internally agree on their standards annually, through internal moderation, using GCSE, National 5 or other national examination standards as reference points. 

Secondly, the most important purpose of assessment is to ascertain what progress has been made by each student and the group/class and cohort. 

This is important because progress feedback is formative, helping individual learners take action to improve, in good time and make better progress.

Art educators find this essential in enabling them to oversee and track the quality of learning and the impact (progress) their teaching is having.

Overall, these purposes provide art educators with information that will enable more effective planning and provide learners with information in the form of feedback. These principles can be applied to both formative and summative assessments.  

Types of Assessment

  • Diagnostic Assessment is an evaluation method used at the beginning of instruction to assess students' prior knowledge, skills, and understanding of a particular subject. It aims to identify students' strengths, weaknesses, and knowledge gaps, providing educators with valuable insights to tailor instruction and address individual learning needs effectively. The primary purpose of diagnostic assessment is to establish a baseline understanding of students' starting points, guiding educators in planning targeted interventions and differentiated instruction.
  • Formative Assessment is an ongoing and continuous process used by art educators to monitor students' learning, their progress and understanding during instruction. It involves gathering real-time feedback through various methods. The primary goal of formative assessment is to identify students' strengths and weaknesses, inform instructional decisions, and support their learning journeys.
  • Self-Assessment of Progress (Ipsative) is a self-referenced evaluation approach that focuses on comparing an individual's current performance to their previous achievements or benchmarks. It emphasises an individual's progress and improvement over time rather than comparing their performance to external standards or others. The primary purpose of ipsative assessment is to encourage self-awareness, self-reflection, and personal growth, allowing individuals to set goals, track their development, and enhance their performance based on their unique journey.
  • Summative Assessment is an evaluation method used to measure students' overall learning outcomes and achievement at the end of a specific period, such as a unit, term, or course. Unlike formative assessment, which occurs during instruction, summative assessment provides a final judgment of student performance and is typically used for grading and making decisions about their progress or readiness for advancement. It aims to determine the extent to which students have achieved the learning objectives and content covered during the instructional period. 

Types of Assessment: 

  • Diagnostic Assessment
  • Formative Assessment
  • Ipsative Assessment
  • Summative Assessment

Assessment can be used to:

  • Support Learning
  • Mark Progress
  • Reporting
  • Feedback
  • Developing Learning Habits and Behaviours
  • Promote Creativity 
  • Aspects 
  • Supporting Creative Habits of Mind 
  • Improve Outcomes
  • Improving Understanding
  • Improve Progress

Assessment in art and design involves evaluating and measuring students' understanding, skills, creativity, and artistic development within the field of art and design.

It aims to assess students' ability to analyse, interpret, and create visual representations while considering aesthetic principles, techniques, skills, conceptual development, and historical context.

The specific assessment criteria may vary depending on the educational institution, grade level, or course requirements. 

The most common purpose of assessment is to ascertain what progress has been made. 

However, it also provides teachers with information that will enable more effective planning and provides learners with information in the form of feedback.

It is important to note that art and design is a subjective field, and assessment in art and design often involves a combination of objective criteria and subjective judgment.

The goal is to provide students with feedback that supports their artistic growth, encourages experimentation, and helps them develop their artistic voice.  

  • Diagnostic assessment is important for learning in art and design.
  • Formative and summative assessments are both necessary to monitor progress, to identify help for learners, and to inform further teaching and learning.
  • Self-assessment (ipsative) is particularly relevant in the discipline of art and design where work can take many iterations before reaching the outcome or solution. It enables learners to review, modify and improve their work independently.
  • Peer assessment is a useful technique for learners to learn from one another; for learners to articulate their ideas verbally to others, and for learners to gain additional perspective through listening to their peers’ thoughts about their work.  


  • See the Big Landscape 'How' Block titled Student Experience (teacher plan, prepare and deliver) here
  • See NSEAD’s  Assessment and Progression here
  • See NSEAD Developing objective-led lessons here
  • See NSEAD Assessment statements KS1-4 here 
  • See NSEAD Effective Assessment here
  • An example of Peer Assessment here
cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram