Monday, March 12, 2018

Assessment FOR Learning

Over the past week students not just at our school but across NZ engaged in the same progress and achievement tasks I did when I went through primary school in NZ, way, way back in the 70s/80s. Yes they have been adapted content wise but the format is almost identical.

One reason they have been adapted is so that not only can they show the progress a student has made from one year to the next but to also give the teacher and learner real information about the mistakes they made. In education we call this Assessment FOR Learning. In the past the focus was often on assessment OF learning and not a teaching tool. It meant teaching to the test and all kinds of poor practice models.

It was the first year I'd taken the assessment tasks with ILE (Innovative Learning Environment) furniture. It was hilarious to see the 'test rows' non-existent and the students performing the tasks independently all over the place :). I wish I'd taken photos. This is what it looked like last year:




    

I'll take some mock photos tomorrow so you can see the difference. It was substantial :)

ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING is the 6th Principle of Learning and following on from last weeks post instead of going in order and posting about the 2nd principle I thought this was more apt and timely. It also illustrates that the principles are not an ordered list. Even though Learners at the centre comes first on purpose I think.

Here's a picture of one of the kinds of reports PAT data gives:


It's not easy to see, I encourage you to blow it up bigger. I have removed the name so it is anonymous. This report tells you the learners score and the stanine they achieved compared to other students in the same year as them across NZ.

More importantly, it identifies the questions answered incorrectly and what kind of questions they were. It's not hugely in-depth but added to other assessment tasks and the learning conversations students engage in they become pretty good at setting goals and working towards achieving them.

The OECD Report "The Nature of Learning" describes the Assessment FOR Learning principle as where... "The learning environment needs to be very clear about what is expected, what learners are doing and why. Otherwise, motivation decreases, students are less able to fit discrete activities into larger knowledge frameworks, and they are less likely to become self-regulated learners."

Understanding learning gaps, setting appropriate learning goals and working towards achieving these is what Assessment for Learning is about. A side effect is, it also provides motivation and connection to learning that can mean a much stronger and more powerful learning environment. A learning environment where students can Own their learning, Respect the learning of others and their own, Collaborate towards shared and personal goals so everyone can Achieve their best.

ORCA fits well into the OECD principles of learning as well :). I am sure the students are pleased to have completed "assessment week" and I hope they look forward to looking at their assessments and making meaning of them. 

These results will be available to parents through your Linc-Ed portal soon. If you want to know these sooner ask your child. They will be finding out about them over the next couple of weeks as part of their learning.

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