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Volume 29, Number 3
May/June 2013

Formative Assessment and Children’s Rights


Do children in school have rights? According to the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), they do. The CRC stipulates that education is a child’s right and that every child under the age of 18 has the right not to be discriminated against. The CRC defines a child’s educational right as involving “the development of the child’s personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to [his or her] fullest potential” and “the preparation of the child for a responsible life in a free society.” In addition, it emphasizes two educational principles: all decisions made about children must be in their best interest; and children have a right to have their views given “due weight” in all matters affecting them.

In light of the CRC provisions, consider the children in our schools. No two children are the same. They come to school from a range of backgrounds, cultures, and language groups and bring with them diverse experiences. They learn in different ways and at different rates, and they have different motivations for learning and distinctive interests in its pursuit. Upholding the educational rights of our students by providing them with opportunities to fully develop their abilities and to be prepared for a responsible life means that a one-size-fits-all view of educational provision will not suffice. To the contrary, accommodating the range of diversity in our schools requires teaching and learning approaches that are responsive to students as individuals.

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Also by this Author

    For Further Information

    For Further Information

    Margaret Heritage. Formative Assessment in Practice: A Process of Inquiry and Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2013.