CLAREMONT COLLEGE

IS MY CHILD “SLIPPING THROUGH THE CRACKS”?

IS MY CHILD “SLIPPING THROUGH THE CRACKS”?

ROBUST AND RIGOROUS ASSESSMENT AT CLAREMONT COLLEGE

Parents will often inquire how we monitor and track their child’s progress? Similarly, questions and comments are often asked of us, such as;

“Where is my Child’s Test Book”?
“I didn’t realise that Claremont students do weekly tests”
“The tests are too easy”
“The tests are too hard”
“There are not enough exams”,“There are too many exams.” 
“How do I know what my child’s marks are?”

ROBUST AND RIGOROUS ASSESSMENT AT CLAREMONT COLLEGE

The assessment process in schools today is becoming more and more complex. It involves a lot more than recall of information. Recall of information is one of the most basic forms of assessment, with application, synthesising and transferring of the learnt knowledge and skills to other contexts, the more complex forms of assessing knowledge and skill. This rigorous and advanced form of assessment is aligned with the five grade scale used for reporting.

Staff at Claremont College understand and apply the current aims of assessment, as outlined by NESA, 2017. Assessment at Claremont aims to:

  • provide opportunities for teachers to gather evidence about student achievement in relation to syllabus outcomes;
  • enable students to demonstrate what they know and can do;
  • clarify student understanding of concepts and promotes deeper understanding; and
  • provide evidence that current understanding is a suitable basis for future learning.
  • What does the data/scores tell you about your grade?
  • What results stand out? Does the data/scores match the faces?
  • What implications do the data/scores have for your grade next year?
  • What does the data tell you about literacy and numeracy outcomes across the school?
  • What other questions does the data raise?
  • Which questions had a very low correct response rate?
  • What will you consider for targeted instructional/learning objectives? Eg. What was question 19 in Year 3 comprehension – only 42% of students got it correct.
  • To ensure a more robust analysis and understanding of the data;
  • To help inform better programming and policies to address both the strengths and the needs of our students; and
  • To inspire individual and collective action among our teaching staff.

This all sounds pretty reasonable and straight forward, but in practice, it can look quite ‘foreign’ to those who are not educators. Traditionally, assessment looked like - students in rows, sitting a test, in silence. Assessment was ‘more often than not’ an act performed ‘upon’ a student. The teachers administered the test, and students responded by regurgitating facts, to demonstrate learnt knowledge. A score was then recorded, for example A+ to E (or even fail).

Today in schools, and especially in Claremont College, tests form one part of the complex assessment process. Assessment includes, but is not restricted to, written tests, formative feedback, authentic assessments*, essays, reports, journals and blogs, debates, role-play, projects, portfolios, learning contracts, ethical dilemmas, annotated work samples, concept maps, written and online quizzes, oral presentations, creative performance, creative products, the list goes on.

*Authentic assessment is a form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks to demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills (Mueller, 2014). In other words, authentic assessments are similar to those tasks that are encountered in the real-life world. In simple terms authentic assessment helps students to relate their learning content to meaningful situations that are relevant to students’ lives. This is important as more and more students take control of their learning and become ‘self-regulated learners’.

It may appear ironic that the word Assessment has its roots in the Latin verb assidere, meaning ‘to sit beside’ - which may seem a long way removed from the practice of testing in traditional ways. However, this form of assessment is alive and well in Claremont although, the ‘sitting beside’ form of assessment is better known as ‘feedback’.

In James and Jill Nottingham’s latest book: ‘Challenging Learning Through Feedback’, the authors argue that effective feedback answers the following three questions for students: What am I trying to achieve? How much progress have I made so far? And what should I do next? Other Educational researchers, such as Hattie and Sharrat argue that the best form of assessment is to engage students in the feedback process, so students can understand, in a timely manner, ‘what and why they’ve done what they’ve done so far, and what they might be able to to next, to improve’ (Nottingham & Nottingham, 2017, pg 11).

Teaching and Learning are totally entwined with the process of assessment, and more importantly, the process of analysis following the ‘assessment’ and ongoing two-way feedback.

Effective teaching not only involves imparting information and understanding to students (or providing constructive tasks, environments, and learning) but also involves assessing and evaluating students’ understanding of this information, so that the next teaching act can be matched to the present understanding of the students. This “second part” is the feedback part (Hattie, 2007). And perhaps more importantly, this process of involving students in feedback enables and encourages students to take responsibility for directing and regulating their own learning (Nottingham & Nottingham, 2017).

Furthermore, at Claremont College we understand that behind each set of data is a group of children, and so in response, we take the data and work towards understanding each student the data represents.

HOW IS THIS ACHIEVED?

Claremont College implements a rigorous assessment process, which is carried out right throughout the school year. This process involves not only assessment (administering ongoing tests), but the more important process of analysing the results. One step in the process of analysing data is the introduction of Data Walks.

Each year in October, students in K-6 participate in whole school Standardised Assessments in Literacy and Numeracy. The data and information gathered from these assessments is utilised for two main purposes, to monitor progress over a sustained period of time, 12-months (have students made 12-months progress) and to inform teaching practice for the end of the year and into next year, so teachers and students can hit the ground running. The data from these Standardised Assessments is shared not only with the teachers of the students but with all teachers on staff.

Questions are posed about the data and teachers physically walk around the room where the K-6 data is displayed and together we tackle these questions:

Why do the Claremont teachers do data walks?

Data Walks, Formative Feedback, Authentic Assessments and Standardised Tests are just some of the aspects of Claremont rigorous assessment process that we use to monitor student learning, track progress and direct teaching.   

If you would like to read more about our current assessment processes, please request a copy of the Claremont College assessment brochure, (also located on our website) or if you would like further information on the assessment process, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Brenda Dalheim
Head of Learning Support

August 2017