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Assessment for Learning in Years 7-10

The new Years 7-10 syllabuses advocate assessment for learning, as this is a type of quality assessment that has had world-wide success in enhancing teaching and improving student learning. Assessment for learning gives students opportunities to produce work that leads to development of their knowledge, understanding and skills. Teachers decide how and when to assess student achievement, as they plan the work students will do, using a range of appropriate assessment strategies including self-assessment and peer assessment.

In summary, assessment for learning:

  • is an essential and integrated part of teaching and learning
  • reflects a belief that all students can improve
  • involves setting learning goals with students
  • helps students know and recognise the standards for which they are aiming
  • involves students in self-assessment and peer assessment
  • provides feedback to help students understand the next steps in learning and plan how to achieve them
  • involves teachers, students and parents in reflecting on assessment data.

The principles of assessment for learning

These principles provide the criteria for judging the quality of assessment materials and practices. They appear below as they do in each of the syllabuses.

Assessment for learning:

  • emphasises the interactions between learning and manageable assessment strategies that promote learning
  • clearly expresses for the student and teacher the goals of the learning activity
  • reflects a view of learning in which assessment helps students learn better, rather than just achieve a better mark
  • provides ways for students to use feedback from assessment
  • helps students take responsibility for their own learning
  • is inclusive of all learners.

Using these principles when establishing a course assessment program

Establishing a course assessment program begins when you program units of work. By incorporating assessment activities into units of work, youcan meet the needs, interests and abilities of your students, while assessing their progress towards a demonstration of achievement in relation to outcomes.

You can develop programs/units of work using the following process:

  1. Identify the outcomes that will be highlighted in the unit.
  2. Decide on the subject matter or focus of the unit of work.
  3. Decide on the evidence of learning that will be required, how students will demonstrate this in relation to the outcomes and how this evidence will be gathered and recorded.
  4. Select the relevant syllabus content for the identified outcomes relating to the knowledge, understanding and skills that students will develop.
  5. Plan the learning experiences and instruction and identify the assessment for learning strategies that will provide the evidence of learning.
  6. Ensure a range of assessment strategies is used and that meaningful feedback in a variety of forms can be communicated to students.
  7. Provide opportunities to reflect on student progress and modify future learning experiences accordingly.

The above steps were used to develop the sample programs and units of work that appear in the Advice on Programming and Assessment support documents for each of the new Years 7-10 syllabuses. They show how to put the principles of assessment for learning into practice. Printed copies have been distributed to all schools and are also available on the Assessment for learning in a standards-referenced framework CD-ROM and on the Board's website.

Further information about assessment for learning is presented in each of the new Years 7-10 syllabuses.

Recording

You will want to have evidence to support your judgements, based on your observations and student performance on specified assessment activities. However,there is no requirement for judgements to be explained in a particular way, or to be supported by detailed collections of evidence for each student.

Recording grids appear on the website for some activities: if included, they can be found under the 'additional information' for an activity. The samples of recording grids that appear on this website are not to be regarded as prescribed models that teachers must use. Rather, they are shown as examples of a variety of ways in which teachers may record the evidence they gather.

Reporting

In a standards-referenced framework, teachers will make professional judgements about student achievement at key points in the learning cycle, perhaps at the end of a semester or year, or whenever schools choose to report on the levels of knowledge, understanding and skill demonstrated by students. The grade descriptions provide a common language for reporting. When and how schools report on student achievement is a matter for individual schools and/or system/sector policy.

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