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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Assessment – How are we monitoring student learning and performance?

When teachers assess student performance, they're not placing value or judgment on it as this evaluating or grading. They're simply reporting a student's profile of achievement with relation to an expected benchmark. For student performance the teacher reports on such effects as absolute achievement, relative progress and scores for specific writing skills. Good assessment is about expanding the assessment repertoire to generate richer information about students' performance because no single form is sufficient. There are reliability and validity problems with each. Every method has its strengths and weaknesses, and its place.

Authentic student assessment ought to be done regularly to guide teaching (Mosier, 1951). This assessment reinforces the content gathered throughout the term, helping students accumulate a body of knowledge and gain deeper understanding. Teachers that guide students learning experiences based on the child's current level of performance shown through observation and authentic assessment (Vialle, Lysaght & Verenikina, 2000) allow them to operate within Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development. This fosters a more demanding and challenging approach to learning, so that valued outcomes, such as the capacity to analyse and synthesise, are rewarded.

Through professional experience I understand that it is pivotal to use the design principle of backward design for assessments. This backward mapping from the task, assists me to as at each step of the way "What's the evidence I need of children's understanding? Will this assessment get at it?" This provides students that opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills covered in the material being assessed. I utilise formative assessment to scrutinize the whole process of testing student understandings with and against others and on the based on feedback, I monitored how they modified and developed those understandings. Summative assessment are applied to measure the level of success or proficiency that has been obtained at the end of an instructional unit, in comparison to a standard, benchmark or matrix.

This measure the level of success or proficiency tells students something about the effectiveness of their learning. Though to improve and deepen their understanding, the students are required an explanation and suggestion for improvement. A guiding principle that I come into contact with is that students should get feedback on one piece of work in time for this to be of benefit for the next.

What is the Impact of this on our Teaching and Learning Cycle?

In my class I clearly state the KUDo's (Know, Understand, Do) for each unit. Expectations ought to be clearly communicated, so that students know what they can expect from the teacher and the class, as well as what the teacher expects from the students. Assessment should therefore be in the front of the teacher's mind in both the design and delivery of lessons. As the teacher concentrates on the learner and the quality of learning in individual classroom sessions they provide the experiences the student requires for success. The learning intentions and success criteria must be accessible to the students and the teacher must support the students as they learn how to help each other improve their work. By crafting questions that explicitly build in the under and over-generalisations that we know students make, teachers can get far more useful information about what to do next. This essentially generates a solid evidence base for deciding whether the class is ready to move on. I found that planning such questions takes time, though by investing the time before the lesson, I am able to address students’ confusion during the lesson, while the students are still in front of me. 

Mosier, R. (1951) The Educational Philosophy of Reconstructionism, Journal of Educational Sociology, American Sociological Association.
Vialle, W., Lysaght, P. and Verenikina, I. (2000) Handbook on Child Development. Social Science Press Australia

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