In a recent issue of Language Testing, Rea-Dickins and Gardner (2000) reported on their work in classroom-based assessment, and provided examples of different ways in which information from learner assessments was used by teachers working with learners for whom English is an additional/second language (EAL). The research reported here is also concerned with classroom assessment in an EAL school context. As in the previous article, it is presented from the perspective that issues of classroom assessment and, in particular, formative assessment require further detailed analysis. Using data from teacher interviews, classroom observations, video and audio recordings of learners, and lesson transcripts, the starting point for this investigation is the concept of the assessment cycle. Taking a grounded approach, it traces different stages in the teacher assessment process and presents a working model for the analysis of teacher decision making in relation to assessment practices. At the same time, it identifies classroom assessment as a multifaceted phenomenon with distinct identities linked to learning, teaching and bureaucratic functions.