Classroom assessment and grading practices have the potential not only to measure and report learning but also to promote it. Like successful athletic coaches, the best teachers recognize the importance of ongoing assessments and continual adjustments on the part of both teacher and student as the means to achieve maximum performance. Unlike the external standardized tests that feature so prominently on the school landscape these days, well-designed classroom assessment and grading practices can provide the kind of specific, personalized, and timely information needed to guide both learning and teaching. Classroom assessments fall into three categories, each serving a different purpose.
The findings are structured under the following headings. School-wide approach to assessment practices and information. The interaction of assessment with teaching and learning. The use of school-wide information to improve student achievement. Reporting student achievement information to the community.
These six key aspects overlap and complement each other. They work together and should not be thought of as discrete elements of good practice. For instance, the development of an integrated approach to assessment practice depends on the purposeful interaction of assessment with teaching and learning.
The following sections discuss the key aspects of good practice and include specific examples. For assessment systems to work well, teachers need to develop shared understanding about the purposes of assessment and about appropriate learning and achievement expectations for their students.
In evaluating how effectively schools had developed and implemented an integrated school-wide approach to assessment, ERO used the following indicators. The extent to which the school: The following sections highlight, through discussion and specific examples, key aspects of good practice in primary school assessment.
School-wide expectations and guidelines Schools demonstrating good practice had clear guidelines and school-wide agreement about assessment practices across learning programmes.
They had developed tools to assess student progress and achievement in all curriculum areas, not just literacy and numeracy. Teachers were familiar with the appropriate administration of assessment tasks. The purpose and usefulness of these activities were also clear.
A shared understanding about the value of such tools as the national exemplars, in moderating teacher judgements, was also reached. Strengths and weaknesses in teaching and learning strategies and initiatives were also identified, informing next steps in school, teacher or programme development as required.
Improving assessment practices had been a key focus of this project. Teachers in this school: Assessment linked to learning priorities Well-structured planning and assessment systems helped teachers to link achievement information directly to the identified learning priorities for each student and to overall school priorities for achievement.
These explicit connections were a strong feature at all levels in schools with good practice and were well established in all curriculum areas. Expectations for learning were clearly stated.
Student achievement linked to expected learning outcomes, and reflections on teaching practice were analysed in programme planning and evaluation processes.
Students regularly received ongoing, targeted oral and written feedback focused on their identified learning priorities. Teachers had developed a comprehensive set of benchmarks to gauge student progress and achievement in these areas. By highlighting the benchmarks as they were achieved, teachers and students were actively involved in creating a visual record of achievement.
This collaborative direction-setting was part of an inquiry approach to teaching and learning. Links to the curriculum documents, and individual or group levels of achievement, were also clear.
Clear rationale and appropriate systems Schools demonstrating good practice provided clear direction for teachers in their assessment and reporting policies.An ability and capacity acquired through deliberate, systematic, and sustained effort to smoothly and adaptively carryout complex activities or job functions involving ideas (cognitive skills), things (technical skills), and/or people (interpersonal skills).
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