On Saturday 6 May, Primary teachers gathered at AISHK for a day of professional development on Assessment. The facilitator for the day was Ms Kelly Borg a Senior consultant at Australian Independent Schools Association, New South Wales. Ms Borg has been working with Primary staff at AISHK for the past 18 months on enhancing our English teaching and learning in line with the Australian Curriculum. We are very fortunate to have access to Kelly as she spends considerable amounts of time working with schools and as such we have access to her wider network. AISNSW uses research as the basis for their work, which also enhances our pedagogical practices.
Throughout the day we unpacked what the research is saying and how well it aligns with practices at AISHK. Some of the content we explored included Assessment FOR Learning, Assessment AS Learning and Assessment OF Learning. This was a very beneficial experience as it reinforced that a great deal of what we are doing aligns with best practice as represented in research as well as many Australian schools. There were also opportunities for us to reflect on what we could build on so that it is more effective in meeting our goals. Some of this included:
- Looking at how we assess for learning. Assessment FOR Learning enables us to gather information from the students about what they already know and what they would like to learn (aligned with the Australian Curriculum). Effective assessment FOR learning also enables us to teach students what they don’t know, rather than teaching something purely because it is in the curriculum.
- Exploring more options for Assessment AS Learning. This type of assessment is student based and can be self-assessment or peer assessment. Its main focus is continuous improvement. It enables students to check in on their learning and self-reflect on their learning as aligned with the Australian Curriculum. It also enables students to give feedback to teachers on the strategies being used by the teacher for their learning.
- Exploring Assessment OF Learning. This type of assessment is usually completed at the end of a unit of work and gives teachers a clear picture of student understanding. As a school this is the part that we do best, however, it is equally as important as the other two components of assessment
You may be interested to know how things will change. In each of the three areas there will be slight deviations from current practices, so that we align more closely to best practice as outlined in research. For those who may wish to find out more, explore the work and educational research of John Hattie, Dylan Wiliam or Robert Marzano. As a staff, we are developing a road map which will enable us to refine our processes and develop slight cultural shifts which will ultimately result in greater levels of growth and development for all students. As key stake holders in our community it is important that you are involved. Before the end of Term 2 you will receive a short survey which will enable you to share your thoughts on one of our many Assessment Of learning tools – the Student Portfolios. We want to garnish from you, your thoughts on them as a celebration/snapshot.
Although it was a Saturday, all staff came enthused with what the day would hold and left with the affirmation of our current practices and with the excitement of new possibilities. On Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 May, each year level met with Ms Kelly Borg and myself to explore localised challenges of Assessment. We are fortunate to have access to such an esteemed consultant from Australia in Ms Borg and the wider AISNSW resources. This is a partnership which will be further developed and continue to be mutually beneficial for our staff and the students. Over the next few weeks I will elaborate further on Assessment.
Cameron Reed | Dean of Studies, Primary