|Source: Te Kete Ipurangi|
Unless assessment is used specifically for learning then I would strongly question its purpose. If nothing is going to be done with the results to improve students' learning and look for the next steps then does it simply become a 'data collecting' exercise for little purpose other than meeting the requirements of another agenda.
Assessment for Learning (as defined on Te Kete Ipurangi, a learning hub from New Zealand with fantastic professional learning resources).
"Assessment for learning is best described as a process by which assessment information is used by teachers to adjust their teaching strategies, and by students to adjust their learning strategies.
Assessment, teaching and learning are inextricably linked, as each informs the others.
Assessment is a powerful process that can either optimise or inhibit learning, depending on how it’s applied."
1. Assessment must have a clear purpose which is known to those involved - students and teachers.
2. Data should always be shared with students and all others involved in the learning process.
3. Formative assessment gives you more indepth knowledge of your students and their progress. Summative has its place but it has so many variables if it's a one-off test that it needs to always be kept in context.
My Process and Focus in the Assessment Cycle
1. Set a clear focus for the assessment task. It's all about the "Why" of what we do. Often I will set the assessment with the students. We've planned the learning together so it makes sense that they are involved in every step of the learning process. How will they know they achieved the Learning Intentions? How will they be able to demonstrate this and look for the next learning steps? Focus on what is to be learned / achieved and where you need to go from there.
2. Focus on the students' individual learning needs and next steps at all times. Use as variety of assessment tools, tests, self- and peer- assessment, observations, anecdotal evidence, etc.
3. Use data to inform learning and teaching practice. This applies for teachers and students.
4. If the results weren't as expected the first thing I do is look at my teaching and learning. Have the students missed the point or not achieved the learning because my teaching was unclear in some way? What do I need to do to rectify this? What is it in my practice that needs to be altered. Feedback from the students in this area is key as well. A book I can't recommend highly enough is Michael Absolum's Clarity in the Classroom. (Click the link to our wiki for a review of this book).
5. Moderation and discussion of data as a teaching team is extremely important. This helps develop clarity of data analysis along with consistency of judgments made. It is also fantastic professional learning. The ideal for moderation is across teams within a school and also with other schools. The more discussion, the more consistent our assessments across the curriculum will become.
6. Assessment for learning is a team approach. I think about what I need to share with parents, etc so that we can work as a team to ensure our students' progress and passion for learning.
We have National Standards in New Zealand and, at this stage, they are only part of the assessment process that completes our Overall Teacher Judgments. This is shown in the diagram below.
|Source: Assessment Resource Banks: New Zealand Council of Educational Research|