Among the critical temperature ranges is the temperature around the annealing point. These are known as the strain points. The higher one is the highest temperature that annealing can begin and is the softening point. The lower one is the lowest point at which annealing can be done and is called the strain point. Soaking at any lower temperature will not anneal the glass at all. The ideal point to anneal is the annealing point, because annealing occurs most quickly at this temperature. This temperature is defined by various characteristics both mathematical and observational. The manufacturer can give this temperature, and most do on their websites.
This annealing range is traditionally calculated as being 40ºC either side of the stated annealing temperature. Your aim should be to spend as little time in the temperatures above the annealing range to reduce the chances of devitrification.
Most glass kilns are not really accurate in recording the temperature within the glass. They are measuring the air temperature. The glass on the way down in temperature is hotter than the recorded temperature. If you do a soak at 515°C for example, the glass is actually hotter and is cooling to the 515° point during the soak. So, long soaks at the annealing temperature are required. Longer for thicker is required. The slow cool to at least 5C below the lower strain point does the annealing, and reduces the risk of inadequate annealing.
Recent research at Bullseye indicates that the use of the fact that temperature readings are above the actual temperature of the glass indicates lower annealing points for thick glass. This has been based on temperature probes at various points within the glass, comparing the glass temperature with the air temperature. The results of their research suggest an annealing soak at about 30C below the annealing point with a long soak, and slow anneal cool for the next 55C.
It is still possible to give the glass a thermal shock at temperatures below the lower strain point, so care needs to be taken in the continued cooling. But no further annealing will take place. If you do not anneal properly, the glass will break either in the kiln or later no matter how carefully you cool the glass after annealing.