5 March 2015

Thinking about assessment...

Leceister Flockton suggests that there is a "need for an assessment-capable" system. He also suggests that out of an assessment capable system will come assessment-capable students.

" My question: what is an assessment-capable student and how does being one, activate learning?"

Currently I am experiencing a strong sense that just because "we know what needs to be done we don't necessarily know how to do it”. Currently, we find ourselves a blank canvas with regards to 'reporting to parents'. It's a privilege to be in that position as it gives one an unique opportunity to really reflect and challenge on the robustness of past practices and to really think about the possibilities that lay in front of us.

Both Flockton and Wiliam refer to practices which place the learner, their self-reflection, and their voice at the heart of the learning, with the aim of engendering pupil self-regulation. Their comments relate to the complexity of translating policy into classroom practice and I am really keen that that classroom practice becomes the central vehicle of our reporting.

At this week's professional learning session we were challenging our thinking about what needs to be done for compliance and then what the Eutopia might actually entail. The conversations were very much centred around the differences between assessment OF learning and assessment FOR learning. We have come from cultures of WALTs and success criteria, pre and post tests. All of us have a clear insight of how a child has gone and parents are of the mindset that they need to know where their child sits.

We found ourselves in the pit at one point. We debated whether collaborating with parents about learning was actually possible. There was a feeling in the room that this might underestimate the expertise of teachers. What we did know though was that we want to create a meaningful learning model and that information sharing needs to inform learning by -

  • focusing on describing what learning and progress has occurred 
  • make use of technology to support two way quality information between home and school
  • ensuring the key purpose is about ongoing learning
  • determining a common language that ensures sharing of and understanding the information shared by all stake holders including the learner, the parents and the teachers
  • children being active participants in their own learning and sharing

And then... there was our first magic moment. There was a light bulb for every single member of the team. We realised as a collective that if reporting to the parents was going to impact directly on learning and support next learning steps we need to be able to communicate learning as a process and not something that is done, complete, finished.

So, at my school we won't have a Reporting to Parents procedure.... We will instead be Communicating Learning! We are still yet to devise what this looks like but I am feeling very excited right about now!