Sunday, 22 February 2015


Tomorrow we have a teacher Professional Learning meeting about our assessment procedures and practices. We have been asked to think about the following questions:

  • What is it for?
  • Why do we assess?
  • When do we assess?
  • What are examples of great assessment?
  • What are examples of poor assessment?

So what do I think?

What is it for?
I believe assessment is for real time guidance about future learning for any independent child, in any particular area. It is important to track progress over time as well.

Why do we assess?
Students are here to learn. Learning is new information or skills that that child didn't know before. Therefore, we assess for information about if they have achieved what we were teaching them AND for what they don't know - yet!
Assessment is only useful if it is analysed and used for the purpose of guiding future learning - a number generally won't tell you that.

When do we assess?
Actually, all the time. I think the most critical of assessment is the informal observations that we, as mentors make continuously. Of course formal assessment needs to happen regularly, but it depends on what it is. E.g. Running Records should be done when you think they are ready to move up a level (guided by observation though). Some assessments need to be made annually, or bi-annually to meet team/school/national/exteranal service expectations. 

What are examples of great assessment?
Continuing informal assessment of processes and strategies across learning areas. Some assessment of knowledge that relates to strategies - i.e. Knowing your times tables will make a difference to a student working at Stages 5-7 in Numeracy.
Children need to be involved in assessment, after all it is their learning. This can be done by talking to their results and next steps or involving them in developing rubrics for the stages of learning. Assessment is part of the learning process, not separate from it.

What are examples of poor assessment?
Assessing knowledge of content areas - e.g. How many wings does a penguin have? (You may however ask 'How does a penguin use it's wings?' to gain understanding of thinking strategies). 

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