One of the strengths of our Primary division has always been the assessment tasks the students complete, aligning with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) curriculum. These are commonly known as Assessment OF Learning. They help teachers understand how much of what was taught was not only retained, but able to be applied by our students. Historically, our Student Portfolios have been full of these types of assessment pieces, usually graded with a scale spanning from Experiencing Difficulty through to Excellent. In 2017 we moved further into exploring Assessment FOR Learning. This is the type of assessment which informs our teaching to ensure that we are planning and teaching concepts and skills aligned with ACARA, which the students are yet to master. They enable us to not waste time teaching students things they already know. Thus, teachers can create student specific learning experiences which cater for their level of understanding. There is a growing number of these appearing in our Student Portfolio and they are usually graded with some task specific feedback. Both Assessment OF Learning and Assessment FOR Learning continue to be vital cogs in the learning cycle.
On 22 January the Primary Division were involved in a Professional Learning day facilitated by Kelly Borg from the Association of Independent Schools (NSW Branch). Kelly has worked extensively with us on previous projects one of which included the refinement of our English teaching and learning. The basis of Kelly’s presentations is two pronged, the first being research and the second is practical application. The focus of January 22 was to further explore Assessment AS Learning and feedback.
Assessment AS Learning has a focus where the student examines their own learning and based on the criteria of the set task, decides what support they need to achieve success. It also involves the student looking at their peers’ work and giving them feedback. The teacher takes on the role of critical friend.
Assessment is cyclical. Every task is Assessment FOR and OF Learning and we give students the skills to develop a mindset of, this is where I am, this is where I need to be, and this is the support I need to get there. You will notice gradual changes in the structure of our Portfolios, the first being a new title. We have re-branded them as a Learning Journey. We are seeking your valuable feedback on the structure and purpose of the Portfolios, this will come out via a survey link at the Parent Information Evenings.
Kelly also worked with us on Feedback. As adults we often focus on giving feedback which makes our students feel good about themselves, however, much of the research shows that this has very little impact on the child as a learner. I have provided some relevant links below, if you would like to read more about either Assessment AS Learning or Feedback.
Assessment will continue to be one of our major focus areas in 2018. Having networked at the Australian Primary Principals Conference last year with Principals from every State and Territory of Australia there was a confirmation that we are at the very forefront in many areas. However, to continue to maintain this position we must evolve and be selective in the changes we make. 2018 promises to be a year of building on a very solid foundation.
Cameron Reed | Dean of Studies, Primary