I like to use the metaphor of a crash “testing” dummy when it comes to assessment in Education. This is part of my thinking on my leadership inquiry involving building assessment capability. Therefore, this blog is part of my evidence and reflection.
Most educators I know are passionate practitioners, who want the teaching and learning and pedagogy that underpins it to be akonga/student centred. To start with the akonga/student and to for learning to be supported, scaffolded, guided by them and their colleagues. If we think of the New Zealand Curriculum as the road, the journey, the potential pathways for our akonga. The road can be travelled at different speeds, different routes, stops and starts along the way. We are lucky to have a curriculum that is innovative and future focussed, allows for different interpretation and different ways to travel along the way dependent on the needs of our akonga. Our beautiful country can be seen as the learning that occurs along the way.
So what is the issue? or is there an issue? Many would say that we have NCEA as a handbrake, many critique NCEA as a being handbrake. Not just NCEA, many would say assessment is a handbrake to any level of education. What if it is seen that our students are travelling the journey of their education but along the way we keep putting up these obstacles and walls along the way.
Some students stop in time, get over or around the obstacle and achieve credits for NCEA /pass assessments and continue on their journey. Some crash into the wall and come back for another go, some don’t ever recover from the crash. What are we doing as educators, are we just preparing them to crash and dodge at certain points along the way? Can we think about this differently? Are there ways to manipulate assessment and build assessment capability in all to ensure that this is not the case. So that we are not just churning out credits and stopping the journey of learning along the way?
What if we can get teachers and students to see and treat the learning journey differently, gather the journey as they go and not to have so many walls, end points and obstacles in the way. Not to have final summative tasks. Not to drive a route along the way in our country and have to recount exactly where they have been in a test before they move to the next point. What about curating evidence as they go, of where they have been, show their understanding at the time as they go on their journey, while it is relevant, while they are amongst it. They do that on facebook, instagram and other social media, excited about what they are up to and wanting to share.
So what if students track their own journey, share their learning along the way, we as educators can helps support that, with maps, ideas on where to go, we can be along for the ride in the car too. We can be the co-driver for our students, taking the wheel when needed and letting them drive as well. A metaphor is all well and good but what am I actually talking about and what are some systems that have been put in place to help this?
At Rototuna we are in the middle of a journey, trying to take control of the wheel, while still letting our akonga drive. We are trying to shift to assessments for NCEA that do not take over the journey, we are trying to gather evidence in an on-going way so that the process of learning and the evidence that falls out of this is valued over the final outcome. We are still learning around this, it is taking for some shifts and building of assessment capability across the board, for our staff and our akonga.
Some of the things we have had to look at are…
NCEA-How does that work here?
Here is a presentation that we have taken our akonga and community through along the way, in regards to a two year level 2 NCEA programme, the Why? and How?
Collecting evidence in a variety of modes along the way
- Video evidence
- Verbal evidence
- Written evidence
- Collated scaffolded documents
- Blogging as evidence
- Google sites/websites collating the learning journey
We have unpacked these types of evidence in PLD and looked at positives and negatives as well as possibilities of each mode.
PLD around modes…
Assessment Task Development
We have looked at how to develop our own tasks for NCEA that ensure we are allowing for portfolios of evidence, while still ensuring we meet the requirements of the standards and allow learners the opportunity to achieve the standard, with fair, valid reliable and robust tasks.
Also developing exemplars of tasks to help support staff and documentation to support this…
So these previous parts show some of the systems that need to be in place to enable a shift in assessment practice. In addition to this, I am also lucky enough to be a part of a team with Paula Wine-Deputy Principal in the Junior High focussing on teachers inquiring into their own practice on assessment capability, also inquiring into building assessment capability in their akonga and looking at evidence of impact on positive student outcomes. As a whole school, we have aligned our three Professional Learning Groups (PLGs) to our strategic goals. Teachers have opted into one of the PLGs that have the foci of…
- Māori achieving success as Māori
- Student agency
- Assessment Capabilty
We are underway with the PLGs and staff are focusing into areas of interest… aspects that are being looked at include…
- Learning focussed relationships
- Quality feedback-feed forward
- Assessment for learning/assessment as learning
- Use of rubrics/solo/etc…
- Development of exemplars? WAGOLLs -What a good one looks like!
- Effective Learning Intentions and Success criteria
- Making Learning visible
- Exploring modes of assessment
- Student agency in assessment
- Teaching your students how to give themselves and others feedback (assessment capable learners)
- Impact of previewing on learning progress
- Teaching ‘learning to learn’ strategies (ASK)
- Exploring how SOLO taxonomy can help students reflect & differentiate your feedback
- and more…
Some exciting stuff that I look forward to seeing grow in their inquiries and also supporting and learning from along the way….
Supported with reading and learning such as…
All of this is being scaffolded along the way by Arinui and just as we are wanting with our NCEA, teachers are collecting their evidence in an on-going way…
In addition to this, the other thing that we have been developing alongside this is also a shift in reporting practice…
Here is an overview of this process….
We are ensuring that reporting is not something happening at the end of semesters, when no shifts can be made to students learning and achievement. We have a process of teachers giving feedback on curriculum levels and CLOAK Values before the middle of the semester. Teachers also write comments that are blind and not proofed on where students are at and where to next. The Kaiārahi (advisors) then collate all the feedback, feed forward and conference the small group of students that they have in their whānau (advisory). This occurs and is sent out mid semester and gives times for students to act on feedback and improve on their achievement.
This is an exemplar of the Kaiārahi conference from Semester one:
The criteria for CLOAK Values that we also report on were co-constructed with our students in our whānau time.
Students are also tracking their own achievement in NCEA and looking to align this with vocational pathways, so that achievement is not just sitting in silos.
Here is an example of this…
So my take on things at the end of this is, if we don’t want NCEA driving things, if we want to be responsive to our students and value the process of learning over final outcomes, or rather make the final outcome the process of learning, there needs to be supports, scaffolds and building of assessment capability for our staff and our students. In addition, this is ideally through inquiry, is informed by research and measures improved student outcomes. So let’s shift it, sit alongside our students, look at quality not quantity and push those walls out the way…..