Assessment is described as the process of gathering, analysing, interpreting, and using information about student progress and achievement to improve teaching and learning. Assessment plays a significant part in our education system and should strive to involve all children in knowing how successful they have been in their learning. This is an integral part of developing lifelong learning skills.
Teaching and learning in the Preparatory School has many strengths and a considerable part of this is the ability to reflect modern learning pedagogy in teaching as well as through our approach to assessment. As this shift in education continues so has our view of assessment.
Visible Learning assessment practices are a focus in the Preparatory School. This is where assessed information is used by teachers to adjust their teaching strategies, and by students to adjust their learning strategies. Assessment, teaching, and learning are inextricably linked, as each informs the other. Students feel involved in the process, are able to describe where they are at with their learning and what their next steps are. Quality and timely feedback from teacher to student, student to teacher, and student to student are an important part of this.
The Preparatory School has been focused on embedding new approaches to assessment, including online tools and apps. e-asTTle continues to be our main tool for assessing Year 4–8 students in reading and writing. As well as being used for whole school cohort testing, individual teachers also use the shorter tests with small groups to inform next steps in the learning process. It provides information to teachers, students, and parents about levels of achievement relative to the Curriculum achievement outcomes for Levels 2 to 6. e-asTTle is a great tool for helping students understand their progress and a useful way to involve parents in discussions about their children’s progress. Classes use the e-asTTle writing rubric to self-assess their writing as part of class work.
In Mathematics, teachers use PAT Maths online to assess students learning at both the beginning and end of year and we are also trialling the use of the PAT Adaptive Mathematics test with groups of students. Adaptive testing accurately assesses a student during the test by continuously adapting the assessment to give them questions which best fit their overall level of achievement. The student is given an initial question and if they get it right, they’re given a harder one, or if they get it wrong, they’re given an easier one. Adaptive technology means everyone gets the test which is right for them, from students at the lower levels to those who need additional challenge.
Curriculum level testing in Mathematics is used across Years 6–8. These tests were developed through the collaboration of Mathematics staff in both the Preparatory and Secondary Schools. The tests provide a tool with which teachers can moderate across classes and year levels, and give accurate formative feedback to teachers around next steps for learning. The curriculum level tests, along with rich tasks and other assessment tools, provide staff with an in-depth picture of student learning.
Student portfolios are a valued and integral part of the children’s learning and achievement, they provide a format for students to record their work, goals, and achievements, reflect on their learning, and share their learning with a wider audience.
Students in the Junior and Middle Syndicates of the school use the online platform Seesaw for their portfolios. Seesaw allows teachers and students to upload current examples of work, and for parents and family to view and comment. For students in the Senior Syndicate of the school, the portfolio is electronically shared using OneNote. This provides a seamless flow through to the Secondary School who also use OneNote as a tool for teaching and learning.