Assessment is that part of the learning process where the learner and the teacher can evaluate progress or achievement in the development of a particular skill, or in the understanding of a particular area of knowledge. In the early years, such assessment is generally informal based on observation by a parent/guardian or early learning practitioner. The American High School Diploma Program curriculum specifies two broad categories of assessment: Internal and External. Internal Assessment refers to the collective set of all assessments applied and used by the school. The External Assessment on the other hand refers to all the assessments conducted centrally by the Examination Committee of the American High School Diploma Program.
In Primary Level Program, this informal observation is supplemented by a range of assessment tools including teacher-designed tests and tasks, project work and portfolios across the curriculum. Standardised tests in reading and mathematics are also widely used in primary schools. In post-primary schools the external examinations - the SLP Certificate and HSLP Certificate examinations - are also used to evaluate achievement across the curriculum.
Assessment generates important information about how a learner is progressing. This information can be shared with the leaner in the form of feedback which should help the learner to become more aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, and identify next steps and strategies for improvement. The information is also important for teacher planning. Assessment information can help a teacher to choose the right resource materials for a learner or for a class, and to plan and structure the learning to meet the different needs of different learners. Assessment information is also important for parents, and is reported to them as part of all schools’ reporting process.
Another type of internal assessment - screening or diagnostic assessment – is also useful, especially in the early years of Primary Level Program. If a parent or teacher suspects that a child may have a specific difficulty, or if the child is not progressing as well as their peers, the learning support or class teacher may use a special test or series of tests that provided more detailed information for the teacher and the parents about the child’s learning needs.
Assessment is part of adults’ day-to-day interactions with children. Adults (which generally/specifically implies teachers at schools) continually make judgements about children’s learning and development and use the information they gather to help children to progress. Children too make judgements about what they are good at, what they enjoy doing, what they can do now with a little help, and what they would like to be able to do in the future. These guidelines describe what assessment is and show what it should look like.
Assessment is the ongoing process of collecting, documenting, reflecting on, and using information to develop rich portraits of children as learners in order to support and enhance their future learning.
Assessment enables the teacher/assessor to find out what children understand, how they think, what they are able to do, and what their dispositions and interests are. This information helps the teacher/assessor to build rich stories of children as capable and competent learners in order to support further learning and development. In doing this, he/she uses the assessment information to give on-going feedback to children about how they are getting on in their learning, to provide challenging and enjoyable experiences for them, to choose appropriate supports for them, and to document, celebrate and plan the next steps in their learning.
Put simply, the teacher/assessor considers the following questions when thinking about assessment:
|Making a judgement||
What aspects of children’s learning and development do I want to focus on in my assessment?
Who will make the judgement – me, the children, or both of us?
How will I record the judgement—as a mental note, as a written note, as a comment or story, as a drawing, as a photograph or video-recording, on a checklist?
How will I ensure that, over time, I am building up rich portraits of children’s learning and development?Will I give children opportunities to record their own judgements? How?
What do I want to say to children about their learning and development?
What do I want to share with children’s parents?How will I share the assessment information?
Assessment for Learning and Assessment of Learning are two approaches to assessment. The two differ in how the teacher/assessor uses the information he/she collects. The main purpose of Assessment of Learning is to inform others, like parents and professionals, such as therapists, about children’s achievement. Assessment for Learning focuses on using assessment information to help children with the next steps in their learning and development. While both approaches are important, these guidelines focus on the teacher/assessor using assessment on a daily basis to help children progress in their learning and development across all curriculum areas. This is Assessment for Learning.
The four assessment actions — collecting, documenting, reflecting on, and using information — overlap and often happen at the same time. At times the teacher/assessor uses all four actions at once and at other times undertakes just one or two. On occasions the teacher/assessor assesses within a few seconds or minutes, but often assessment takes place over a number of days or weeks. Sometimes the teacher/assessor assesses without even planning to. At other times, he/she plans to focus on particular aspects of learning and development across specific areas of curriculum. The table below summarises some key features of good assessment practice:
gives feedback to children on their learning and development as part of his/her daily interactions with themmakes decisions that build on past experiences and support new learning and development
talks with children to understand their learning and developmentgives children opportunities to think about what they did, said, made, and learned, and helps them plan what they will do next
|Makes sense for children||
assesses as part of everyday activities, events, routines, and interactions, and uses objects, places and people which are familiar and interesting to children
|Involves children’s families||
provides parents with insights into their children’s learning and gives suggestions for how they might support learning at homegives parents opportunities to share information about their children’s learning and development
|Uses many methods||
uses methods such as self-assessment, conversations, observations, tasks, and testsuses methods in a way that is appropriate, given children’s ages, backgrounds and stages of learning and development
|Happens over time||
collects and uses information on a daily basisover time, builds a rich portrait of each child as a learner
|Celebrates the breadth and depth of children’s learning and development||provides evidence of children’s learning and development across the dispositions, skills, attitudes and values, knowledge, and understanding|
In assessing, the adult looks for evidence of children’s progress across four themes:
Dispositions: for example curiosity, concentration, resilience, and perseverance
Skills: for example walking, cutting, writing, and problem-solving
Attitudes and values: for example respect for themselves and others, care for the environment, and positive attitudes to learning and to life
Knowledge and understanding: for example classifying objects using colour and size, learning ‘rules’ for interacting with others, finding out about people in their community, and understanding that words have meaning
Documentation provides a record of student’s learning and development. This record helps to tell the story of student’s journeys as capable and competent learners. The teacher/assessor documents important points about what students understand, can do, and how they approach learning. He/she also sometimes records in more detail student’s involvement in particular events or activities in order to create a fuller picture of the richness and complexity of their learning and development. This storytelling approach is especially useful in Primary Level Program. Documentation can include written notes, stories, photographs, video footage, and samples of what children make, do and say, such as models, sculptures, pictures, paintings, projects, scribed comments, responses, or statements. Teachers/Assessors and students use this evidence of learning to celebrate progress and achievement, and to plan the next steps in learning. Documentation also enables the adult and/or children to share information with parents. This can help parents to build on their ward’s out-of-home experiences while at home, and so make learning more enjoyable and successful. In the case of some students, documentation provides critical information in helping to identify special educational needs, in putting appropriate supports in place, and in reviewing the impact of these interventions.
Assessment information can be stored in children’s learning portfolios, in a practitioner’s files, and in central files.
A portfolio is a helpful way of compiling information about children’s learning and development. The portfolio can take the form of a folder, a scrapbook, a shoe, cereal or pizza box, or something similar in which objects made by the children, photographs, stories, notes, records of care, checklists, and test scores (where relevant), are kept. This collection tells the story of each child’s learning journey—his/her efforts, progress and achievement over time. Portfolios can help give children a sense of pride in and ownership of their own learning and development. For example, children can select work samples and photographs for their portfolios, reflect on these, and, with the adult’s help, plan ahead. This experience can make learning more enjoyable and interesting for them.
Practitioners working in out-of-home settings can keep a file which includes a record for each child in their group or class. This record might include details of observations, conversations with children and their parents, events, and incidents as they occur in the setting. The practitioner adds to this record as necessary. In this way, it is a ‘running record’.
Certain information about students needs to be kept in a central file in out-of-home settings. This might include parents’ names and contact details, medical information, reports and information from other professionals such as therapists, and so on. In the case of settings in which there are a number of practitioners, it might be especially important for this type of information to be accessible in a central location. Where children attend a setting for more than one year, the adult can transfer important points of information about children’s learning and development from the practitioner’s file to this central file at the end of a year or other period of time. Assessment information gathered within the setting and by other professionals (for example, reports received from a therapist) should be stored safely and used only by those concerned with children’s learning and development. It is also important that the information is used only for the purpose for which it was collected and documented. Information can be stored using a structured, manual filing system, and/or electronically. Where electronic records are kept, the teacher/assessor can include photographs of items made by students.
Thinking about what to do, how to do it and why, and then judging how well it went is part of any professional’s work. The reflective adult uses information about children’s learning and development to think about his/her practice, and to identify how to improve it. He/she may do this in partnership with colleagues and/or other professionals. This reflection may result in the adult changing the way he/she interacts with children and their parents, re-organising the room, changing routines, planning particular activities, and providing specific materials and objects. The adult also shares assessment information with the children and their parents and uses the information to plan for children’s progress.
Assessment information can alert the adult to potential difficulties experienced by children. By bringing concerns to the attention of parents and other professionals, the adult plays a critical role in helping to access appropriate supports to enable children to progress in their learning and to limit the potential impact of the disability or difficulty on future learning and development. The supports may include putting a specific learning programme in place for a child. This might be based on an Individual Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is a comprehensive working document that should be developed by the school, with support from the corresponding/relevant doctor/therapist/expert and with information and support from the parents, setting out prioritised learning needs, goals and strategies to support a child’s learning and to map his/her progress.
By talking regularly to children about their learning and development, they can decide with the adult what they should do next and how. Sharing information with parents is equally important, so that they can support their children at home and, where necessary, work with the setting to organise additional supports for their children. In some cases, where a concern exists about learning and development, the adult may advise parents to get a referral letter from their doctor in order to have the child assessed. In the case of some children, and with parental consent, the adult shares assessment information with others such as therapists, Special Educational Needs Organisers and inspectors in order to access specific supports and/or resources.
|1 Credit = 180 hours of academic course work.|
A candidate failing in one of the five subjects of external examination shall be placed in compartment in that subject provided she qualifies in all the subjects of internal assessment.
Rest of conditions for appearing in the examination shall be as laid down in the Examination Byelaws of the NWAC from time to time.