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Ruth Sutton’s view of current assessment developments in Canada, NZ, Scotland, and the implications for us in England.

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Presentation on theme: "Ruth Sutton’s view of current assessment developments in Canada, NZ, Scotland, and the implications for us in England."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ruth Sutton’s view of current assessment developments in Canada, NZ, Scotland, and the implications for us in England

2  Started with an interest in the connection between classroom assessment, meta- cognition, and students’ personal development  1982-87 practical immersion, as Director of Manchester Assessment Project  ‘Technical’ assessment immersion, as member of JMB’s Research Advisory Committee  International immersion through regular work in NZ and Canada since 1992

3 1. “The provision of effective feedback to students 2. The active involvement of students in their own learning 3. Adjusting teaching to take account of the results of assessment 4. Recognition of the profound influence assessment has on the motivation and self-esteem of students, both of which are crucial influences on learning 5. The need for students to be able to assess themselves and understand how to improve”


5  Alberta : provincial tests and results managed by Alberta Education  AFL encouraged through ‘Alberta Initiative for School Improvement’ (AISI) over several years  This approach has encouraged districts to see AFL as an ‘Initiative’, an add-on, not a shift in the norms of teaching  No provincial report card: districts have to devise their own, based on curriculum outcomes  Current public row about ‘no zeros’ policy in some schools: an example of the emotional/cultural underpinnings of assessment

6  Ontario : assessment through Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), Math and Literacy at Grades 3, 6, 9 (Maths) and 10 (literacy, graduation requirement)  Results published and used for review and improvement  Assessment principles and practice guidelines in ‘Growing Success’, 2010  Much progress recently, currently stalled by union action over pay, pensions etc

7  Manitoba : weak provincial control, policy dominated by Winnipeg  Winnipeg Comprehensive Assessment Programme (2000- present): classroom- based assessment, at the start of the year, results returned to schools but not publicly shared  AFL encouraged but patchy: secondary assessment still dominated by ‘grading’ issues

8  Using the term ‘assessment’ brought with it unhelpful negative baggage for teachers, students and the community  ‘Feedback for Learning’ was the key to the project  Our development focus was on teaching strategies, to enable and encourage the provision and use of effective feedback to improve student learning and outcomes  Mostly within the realm of ‘2 nd generation’ learning and assessment (cf Mary James’ analysis), although we wanted to push it further, into collaborative meta-cognitive tasks

9 1. Learning intentions: what do we want the students to learn, including ‘learning how to learn’? 2. Evidence of learning/success criteria: what will we look for to show that these goals have been achieved? Discuss and exemplify these with your students. 3. Assessment activities: how will students show what they know, and get feedback to decide their next steps? 4. Teaching: what teaching activities will enable and encourage students to learn and practice the things we want them to learn? 5. What’s the starting point? Check for prior learning and misconceptions.

10 ‘Ten Steps to Heaven’ 1. Teacher is clear about purpose and task (backwards planning) 2. Teacher plans to discuss and exemplify learning expectations 3. Teacher designs and explains learning tasks 4. Teacher and students develop success criteria together 5. Students check their work, while the learning is in progress 6. Students say what’s OK and what’s not 7. Students identify a next step 8. Students continue, or correct work so far 9. Students reflect periodically on what they’ve learned, and how they learned it 10. Students present learning and achievement to someone else

11 1. Task (fist) 2. Purpose (heart) 3. Share 4. Small Steps 5. Get Working 6.Look and check 7.Idea for improvement 8.Take a step towards 9.Look back to reflect 10.Present learning

12  1. AFL techniques sometimes detached from original principles  2. Grade 7 onwards obsessed with %, with no understanding of ‘margin of error’  3.Secondary assessment dominated by high-staking regular grading and reporting 3 or 4 times per year.  4.Reliability of teachers’ grading undermined by concept of ‘individual professional autonomy’ 5. System leadership stronger at district level than at school level, plus frequent movement of Principals (who are called ‘Adminstrators’!)


14  Skills-based: teachers decide the appropriate content to use as the context for learning  5-14 testing abandoned, after concern about the negative unintended consequences of regular national testing on teaching and learning experiences in schools  Money previously spent on design, distribution, marking of tests diverted into other methods of ensuring reliability, eg. national moderation procedures and the National Assessment Resource (NAR)  Providers of ‘standardised tests’ quickly moved to exploit (or exacerbate) the anxiety about ‘reliability’ among parents, teachers and LAs - a residue of over- reliance on tests

15  Yes, it costs a lot to organise and run a successful teacher moderation process  It also costs a lot to run a national testing process  BUT, the money spent on moderation leads to very high quality professional development and confidence: the money spent on national testing leads to teacher passivity, anxiety, marginalisation and spurious faith in the ‘objectivity’ of results

16 Validity Reliability Manageability (time, cost, and credibility) Best fit


18  Regional Ministry of Education oversight of schools abandoned: each school has autonomous locally elected Board of Trustees and directly accountable to central government  National curriculum – too heavy to start with and then refined  National Standards in Literacy and Numeracy recently developed: to be used for reporting to parents, assessed by ‘Overall Teacher Judgement’(OTJ) and moderation

19  ATOL PD contracts in place for a decade and more  Implementation impressive until late primary but patchy thereafter  PD has tended to be ‘formulaic’, and not deeply understood, beyond the connection with very strong early childhood practice

20  Oversees National Certificate of Educational Standards at levels 1 and 2 in the schools sector  Tight criteria, loose(ish) moderation, assessed and recorded in ‘units’  Fragmented summative assessment often confused with ‘formative’: secondary ‘too busy’ to focus on systematic involvement of students

21  Implacable hostility of NZEI (primary teachers’ union) to National Standards has distracted teachers from managing them as effectively as necessary  OTJ’s being introduced ahead of effective moderation: could this result in imposition of national assessment, despite prohibitive costs?  National Education Monitoring Programme (Intensive sampling, like APU) has been phased out  Political uncertainty and 3 year political cycle  Education Review Office (OFSTED equivalent) could become obsessed with National Standards data  Charter schools?? What are they thinking of?

22  Regularly noted by research studies on AFL  Raises major issues around ‘traditional’ PD  Interest in ‘teaching as a construct of habits’  What enables/encourages teachers to change their daily fundamental habits?  Without this change, sustainability is a non- starter

23 The three-part brain 1. The neo-cortex: intellectual processing 2. The reptilian brain: basic instincts 3. The limbic brain: handles emotions, experiences and habits

24  We learn how to teach through doing it, (not reading about it), using the limbic brain to establish our professional habits  These habits include planning, questioning, marking  Habits learned ‘limbically’ will be changed the same way, through practice  Changing habits generates problems and potential conflict

25  Pre-contemplation  Contemplation  First step  Discomfort and floundering  Practice  Confidence  New habit  Coach someone else

26  The Weight-watchers model for changing teaching and learning habits involves: Big, important, agreed goals Small steps and continual feedback Perseverance Collegial support and accountability Recognition of success

27 UK Teaching and Learning Research Project (2009), presented by Mary James in NZ Learning Autonomy (outcome) Learning How to Learn (activity) Assessment for Learning (tools)

28  Implementing and sustaining AFL requires change in most of the mechanisms of teaching  We need to focus on ‘re-engineering’ teaching, rather than adding something to it  The word ‘assessment’ can confuse the issue, especially in secondary schools  Why not “Feedback for Learning”?  Or even “Teaching for Learning” ????

29 self efficacy Helpful feedback ‘Locus’ of control - As close to self as possible Motivation Achievement


31  Let’s look at problems pupils can work on  Release the magic, inspire to learn  Share the criteria, provide great feedback  And success you all will earn

32  Our classroom focus is on the learning  Not just the levels and the test  We give our pupils responsibility  And they reward us with their best

33  Raise motivation, expect achievement  Observe and listen, to find the clues  And then adjust our next steps in teaching  To reduce those classroom blues

34  What’s in it for me, I hear you asking  Why should I bother with all this stuff?  I’ll tell you why, dear, learning goes deeper  And behaviour’s not so tough

35  So there we have it, feedback for learning  We know it works, so why not try  Student involvement, in every classroom  Children’s learning hits the sky

36 Keep in touch : Take a look at the story of Winnipeg’s ‘Feedback for Learning’ in ‘Creating Independent Student Learners’ (2006) And check out my first novel, ‘A Good Liar’, (2012)

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