Assess student learning

Please see an excerpt from my own research into assessing student learning

For the purposes of this task, I have chosen to analyse a sample of year 3 creative writing employing curriculum outcomes and indicators from the NSW curriculum. Quality assessment involves strategies that allow the teacher to identify what the students’ know; what they need to work on for future lessons design planning and the appropriate strategies of differentiation to help meet the unique needs of individual students.

Quality feedback and grading is a part of formative and summative assessment that must provide meaningful and constructive feedback to enable students to improve their understandings, specific to the curriculum objectives, within real world context (authentic assessment). Teachers are required to monitor, record and report on their students progress as part of their professional practice.

“Assessment in education involves identifying, gathering and interpreting information about students’ learning, and has identified modes of assessment.” (as cited in, Brady and Kennedy, 2012, 15)

Formative and summative modes of assessment, allow educators to identify the learning needs of students, based on their understandings of the lesson/unit outcomes; their motivations, such as their attitude toward the task at hand; their interpersonal skills when working in student centred activities, such as group work activities; and should provide meaningful feedback for teachers, students and their parent/guardians.

Formative assessment includes feedback such as whiteboards that allow all students to contribute and demonstrate their understandings, and coloured cups (i.e. green, orange and red) that allow students to display feedback on their learning (The Classroom Experiment, Wiliam 2012).

This feedback allows teachers to differentiate lessons according to students understandings. For example, in Assessment for Learning in Sweden (2013), one of the approaches paired students according to their understandings, based on their decision to display green and red cups (i.e. extension and working toward students), which allowed the teacher to focus on the yellow students (i.e. working at students).

Summative assessment, includes “exit ticket”, which ends a lesson with an evaluative question (Assessment for learning, Rystad 2013) and traditional based assessments such as multiple choice and Naplan.

It is paramount that lesson/unit tasks and assessment items directly align to the curriculum outcomes, through indicators that link the broader curriculum objectives to the specific lesson tasks. The developmental stage of students, including their language, culture, gender and socio-economic status must also be taken into consideration when selecting classroom resources, learning experiences and assessment questions.

Taking these factors into consideration improves student engagement as it becomes relevant to students’ everyday lives and culture providing more authentic and meaningful tasks specific to their backgrounds.

Children also require “explicit scaffolding, constructed within expertly delivered instructional conversations which address the language, knowledge, and strategies required for problem solving in writing” (Gibson, 2008, p. 324).

Well designed teacher directed activities in writing instruction, also provide “richly textured opportunities for students’ conceptual and linguistic development” (Goldenberg, 1992, p. 317). Formative assessment empowers teachers to monitor their students’ understandings and progress through a lesson or unit of work providing feedback that enables teachers to scaffold the lesson tasks according to the individual needs of students.

Breaking the tasks into smaller, bite sized chunks, empowers students to digest complex information more readily. For example, in a creative writing lesson for Year 3/Stage 2, the teacher could make the lesson relevant by discussing a personal story about their own life that displays complication and resolution, and then asking students to share their own stories with the class that display a similar pattern of complication and resolution.

An exemplar (the teachers’ original story) of the activity could then be displayed on a SmartBoard and analysed for its structural elements. For example, use of paragraphs, linking words, plot development, descriptive words and expressive vocabulary. Students would then submit their written narratives at the end of class for summative assessment. The teacher would then assess and provide feedback to monitor, record and report on student learning intended for students, parents/guardians and colleagues (see figure 1).

Figure. 1


Brady, L. and Kennedy, K. (2012)
Assessment and Report: Celebrating Student Achievement (4th ed.) Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson.

Gibson, S.A. (2007).
Preservice teachers’ knowledge of instructional scaffolding for writing instruction. Mid-Western Educational Researcher, 20(2), 9-15.

Goldenberg, C. (1992).
Instructional conversations: Promoting comprehension through discussion. The Reading Teacher, 46(4), 316–326.

Rystad, M. (2013, April 7)
Assessment for Learning. Retrieved from here

William, D. (2012, April 11)
The Classroom Experiment (Ep. 2). Retrieved from here