The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (Ministerial Council on Educational Training and Youth Affairs, 2008, p3) summarises the principal ideas of assessment and learning very clearly. The document breaks it into three key areas - ‘Assessment for learning, where ongoing monitoring of the information gleaned helps the teacher to address the specific needs of their students (formative), ‘Assessment as learning’ Where students self reflect’ and ‘monitor’ their own learning in relation to educational goals and ‘Assessment of learning’ Using evidence to assess how well the students have achieved curriculum outcomes ( Summative).’ In assessing a sample of year 3 creative writing, I was able to address assessment for learning - e.g -identifying need for improvement in punctuation particularly in the lack of use of commas. as well as assessment of learning - comparing the students work against NSW English curriculum outcomes.
“Providing students with meaningful information prior to an assessment task gives every opportunity to present their best possible response to a given task” (Curriculum Support For Teaching in HSCI, Gore h.d)
In giving feedback for the writing sample, I adjusted the language to be appropriate to those receiving it - oral/ written feedback to the child, the parent and colleagues in accordance with NSW assessment guidelines
“Reports to parents ( and students) needs to use plain, everyday language “ (Principles of assessment and reporting in NSW public schools p.4)
and only used educational jargon for feedback to colleagues.
I also employed the
“two stars and a wish” (Assessment for learning, Rystad 2013)
concept giving constructive feedback outlining what the student had done well - the stars and what they were working towards - the wish. I also included suggestions in my feedback of what both the students and parents could do to aid improvement. At the core of my assessment and feedback I sought to enhance the learning experience of the student and draw from curriculum objectives.
“The most important principle of assessment is that it should enhance student learning” (Assessment Tool kit, O’Farrell, 2001, p.3)
Having spent much of my teaching career (prior to beginning the GDTL) with ESL students and considering the multiple representation of language groups and cultures in many schools throughout Australia, I am particularly interested in continuing to focus on exploring learning and assessment for ESL students as a specialisation.
The department of education in NSW recognises the challenges to learning for ESL students.
“They need to simultaneously learn English, learn in English and learn about English in order to successfully participate in informal social interactions as well as more formal and academic contexts.” ESL Guide, Dept Education NSW, (2008 - p.9)
So in terms of assessment, my questions are these - How can these students be assessed on equal footing to their English first language and cultural majority counterparts? Also, how can different forms of assessment actually be of benefit to their learning?
The guidelines document for ESL students in NSW answers some of this - Although The NSW department of education does not require those that have been in the country for less than a year to participate in broad scale testing, ( e.g The NAPLAN) students from non English speaking backgrounds can benefit from these forms of assessment as they can
“assist schools in identifying (their) literacy and numeracy needs“ ESL Guide, Dept Education NSW, (2008 - p.12)
I am particularly interested in working with Indigenous Australians and plan to adopt a teaching/ assessment practice that acknowledges “a two way learning system”. The Batchelor institute in the NT employs this successfully in their teaching practice -
“For many students (at Bachelor), this means validating their new knowledge and learning with their elders.” (Both ways Learning, Batchelor Institute n.d.)
So how can one apply this to creating meaningful and useful forms of assessment for indigenous students? Michael Michie shows an example of how both ways learning can be used in assessment in science when the task he sets requires representations of information from both a Western and indigenous perspective. Assessment items were designed to have ‘both-ways’ components. In this assignment, students were asked to
“Select a plant or an animal for which you are able to research, (to draw from western scientific and indigenous knowledge) Design a poster where you can arrange the two sets of knowledge around a central photograph or drawing.” Michie (2010, p.6)
Not only did the assessment embody a multimodal approach, it also allowed for students to glean knowledge on the plant or animal using Western sources like books and the internet but also oral knowledge given from elders.
Underlying this two way learning system there must be a balance - helping Indigenous students achieve national curriculum outcomes so that they can be equal players to non indigenous students while encouraging and integrating indigenous cultural values knowledge and language. The issues around this challenge is something that I want to explore further.
Taking into account my interest in equity of learning and assessment for ESL and Indigenous students, I look forward to implementing the key areas of assessment and learning in my prac as well as using innovative ways to create an experience for my students that is both meaningful and constructive.
Batchelor Institue, n.d. Retrieved from ([here]http://www.batchelor.edu.au/about/both-ways-learning/)
Gore. John Curriculum support for Teaching in HSIE 2000 Vol.4 Number 5 2000. Retrieved from here
Michie. M (2010) Implementing Both Ways Science Education Teaching In An Indigenous Tertiary Institution, p.6
Ministerial Council on Educational Training and Youth Affairs (2008, December. Melbourne declaration for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from here
O’ Farrell, 2001, p.3 here
Rystad, M. (2013, April 7) Assessment for Learning. Retrieved from here
ESL Guide, Dept Education NSW, 2008 Retrieved from here