The trend I have chosen to focus on is: Using assessment information to know about, and plan for, students’ learning. I have chosen this because I strongly believe that effective assessment practices promote the best possible outcome for students. It is relevant to my practice this year as I am new to the school and having come from a school where there were strong assessment practices I have been challenged by the relaxed attitude towards assessment at this school. While I am not advocating for over assessing students I strongly believe that effective assessment is key to accurate reporting as well as teaching to the individual needs of students. As I read the material this week this trend really resonated with me. As I look to write end of year reports later this term I find that I am worried about the lack of assessment data I have on hand.
ERO states that teachers at every level should have:
- the expected learning students should make (developmental or achievement expectations)
- the learning students have made (prior learning and achievement and progress)
- the learning they need to make (the gaps between expectations and prior learning and achievement)
- the impact that the curriculum has had on students learning.
These areas need continued work within our team. We do not have a shared understanding of what quality assessment looks like. There are minimal shared assessment practices and I strongly believe this is having an impact on the value added to student’s learning throughout the year. We have strong relationships with our students and a good understanding of their cultural backgrounds, however these alone are not enough to “plan a curriculum that links to, and builds on, students‟ interests, strengths, and learning needs.” (ERO, 2012) We also need to develop a shared understanding of our curriculum and assessment practices as outlined above to ensure student success, especially for our priority learners.
Knowledge of expected learning:
“In its 2012 evaluation,45 ERO found that 22 percent of schools (439 schools in the sample) were working well with the National Standards, and a further 50 percent were developing their systems and processes to work with the standards.” (ERO, 2012)
“There are implications for priority learners who are currently in the schools where the standards are not being implemented well or fully. Without a clear knowledge of what is expected of students at particular year levels, robust processes to identify who needs help, and a clear plan about how to help them, these students risk further failure in the system.” (ERO, 2012)
For the National Standards to be implemented effectively we must develop school wide practices to ensure we have a shared understanding of what each standard looks like. Cross community moderation of assessment tasks is important to achieve this. This was shown earlier this year when there was a massive drop of the National Standards of a whole cohort that had moved from one learning community to another. Due to the lack of a shared understanding and moderation the Standards are not being applied consistently across the school.
Knowledge of learners’ achievement and progress:
“ERO has identified that schools have issues in relation to knowing about the achievement and progress students have made. Firstly, ERO notes that leaders needed to more actively guide teachers to use effective assessment practices. Secondly, there is a clearly identified need for many leaders to develop their capacity to use achievement data for monitoring students‟ achievement and for school self review.” (ERO, 2012)
Priority learners are identified at leadership level and targets are set for these students. However better communication practices between leadership and teachers around these students and their targets could enhance their achievement potential. A shared understanding and guidance by the leadership team around effective assessment practices would also benefit all learners.
“Meeting the needs of individual students, regardless of whether they happen to belong to a particular ethnic or cultural group is the cornerstone of current thinking in education. In fact, the National Standards policy is predicated on this very principle. If we wish to make a distinct difference to the achievement of priority learners, then we need to engage in a more fine-grained analysis of what is happening for individual students as one of the first steps in bringing about students‟ success.” (ERO, 2012)
When there is a shared understanding of effective assessment practices then all students benefit. Effective pre-testing throughout the year fosters the ability to tailor the learning to meet all student individual needs. Formative assessment is an essential component of an effective assessment schedule. Post testing alone, after teaching a unit is not effective practice.
Knowledge about the learning which students must make:
“Many ERO reports have identified that schools are not taking a strategic approach to raising the achievement of priority learners. In the report Promoting Success for Māori Students: Schools’ Progress, 54 ERO identified that only 17 percent of primary schools collected, analysed and used achievement data well, including using it to set appropriate targets for improved Māori student achievement.” (ERO, 2012)
We are identifying priority students and targets are being set. However, more work need to be done to ensure we are doing this effectively. ERO identified the following issues which we as a school should be discussing: (Key issues for our teachers are in bold)
- targets not being informed by school-level data
- trustees not receiving information about student achievement against the National Standards
- trustees not being involved in setting targets or decisions about resources for targets
- teachers not being included in decisions about, or aware of, the targets that had been set for students
- very broad or general targets that were difficult to measure progress towards
- targets not being focused on students below or well below the standards
- a lack of processes to monitor progress over the year
- trustees not receiving regular reports to enable them to monitor progress towards targets.
We must take collective responsibility for improving student outcomes and actively work towards the targets in our everyday work with students. As leaders and teachers we must work together to ensure the best possible outcomes for our students.
Education Review Office. (2012). Evaluation at a Glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand Schools. Retrieved 18 May 2016, from http://www.ero.govt.nz/About-Us/News-Media-Release…