Theme 6: Assessment for learning

Effective teachers use a range of assessment practices to make students’ thinking visible and to support students’ learning.

A wide range of both formal and informal assessment practices are reflected in the stories below as teachers outline how they diagnose learning issues, teach and provide feedback, and monitor progress. Assessment is an integral part of teachers’ informed practice as they seek to know what is and what is not working for their students.

Classroom teachers engage in intense assessment and response on a moment by moment basis in their regular daily teaching. By setting appropriate tasks, by asking effective questions, by giving time for students time to think and give explanations of their thinking, and by listening attentively as their students “think and reason aloud”, teachers skilfully guide learning with reference to progressions and frameworks.

It is also important to highlight the importance of ensuring that consistent messages and information are being shared and valued by all involved in the students’ learning, and across transitions, for example between primary and intermediate schools.

Schools here make it clear that specific task related feedback is critical to the success of their students. Some too have ensured their students have engaged in peer and self assessment and evaluation as a regular part of their programme.
 

Exemplars:

Their discussion and actions allowed me to follow their thinking processes and reasoning so that I could redirect them where necessary. Assessment was on-going throughout each session and determined where to next in my planning. I think this was a key to the success of the programme as I was able to tailor the learning specifically to each child in the group.
At the beginning the needs of each child as well of the group were established. Children individually were given their results and the teacher spoke to them about where they were at and where they needed to get to. Children were also told of how they may get there. All programme planning was tailored to the needs of the child and their preferred learning styles. The follow up sessions filtered and became part of the daily classroom programme. Essential to success was the approach of using formative assessment information throughout and therefore the teacher was flexible during the lesson to respond to the needs of the children. This ensured that the teaching and learning was targeted and helped students to consolidate their understanding and clarify any misunderstanding in the process.
Teaching to identified needs: by identifying the children’s individual learning needs from the pretest was one of the best things I did. This made it very clear to see the knowledge the children already had, and to see the gaps I needed to fill. I found I referred to this piece of paper (although a very simple idea) constantly throughout the term and it kept me very focussed on what each child needed in terms of teaching and learning.
 
Feedback: I found that providing immediate feedback to the students was a useful way of ensuring the children knew what they had to do next time (solve a problem correctly). This feedback during our sessions was always verbal feedback, but it wasn’t just evaluative feedback such as “good boy” but focussed on what they were actually doing and linked to the learning intention for the session. We didn’t do worksheets during these sessions we used whiteboards for recording, or recorded ideas on big pieces of paper to go up on the walls for revisiting or to help us remember what we had done.

(more examples)