How do we use what we have learnt from assessment to improve our pedagogy? The Southport State High experience Mrs Sherrie Davis and Tina Barnes
What have we learnt from assessment which is relevant to our pedagogy? • That the criteria matrix is a powerful teaching tool • That front-ending assessment improves outcomes for students (especially apparent in students regularly achieving Ds and Cs and those whose first language is not English) • That carefully scaffolding supportive material can unlock the assessment for educationally disadvantaged students. • That teaching of the unit must include orientating students to the assessment task and criteria matrix in the initial phase. It acts as a context for the learning and teaching.
How are we using our learning about assessment to improve pedagogy? • We are engaging students in the process of writing the criteria matrices. This helps them to take ownership of their outcomes by better understanding what is expected of them in completing the task. • We are continually working to ensure these criteria matrices are written in “kidspeak” in the Middle School to use as a checklist in completion of the task. • We are seeking feedback from our students on what they need in supportive materials to enhance their performance on assessment • We are utilising our learning to up-skill all teachers at Southport, in the practice of front-ending assessment. • We are involved in a number of projects at national and state level to share our learning and practices both within the school and beyond.
Anecdotals – Front-ending assessment and aligning it to the pedagogy does work. • Students who have been involved in the DEST, Middle Phase of Learning Project and QCAR quality units of assessment have improved their level of achievement. They have often out-performed students who have not been exposed to this model of alignment – this has been particularly noticeable in the D to C range, although it is helping B students achieve A’s because they are specifically aware of what extra things that have to do to demonstrate competency at that level. • ESL students have been better able to deconstruct what they need to know and do to complete the task. Just recently 3 of them achieved from C to B overall for a particularly rigorous stimulus response under exam conditions in August this year. Last year they struggled to pass.
Anecdotals – Front-ending assessment and aligning it to the pedagogy does work. • Students are now able to construct their own scaffolding based on their understanding of the task requirements. Exposure to a range of these over time has helped them to make their own. • Students are better able to manage their time with respect to completion of tasks because the pedagogy is structured to chunk the assessment into manageable pieces with the links made obvious.
“A good teacher does him/herself out of a job eventually” • Our students are now better able to deconstruct tasks, construct their own supportive scaffolding, manage their time more effectively and achieve better outcomes. • Our teachers are designing more effective pedagogy, better assessment tasks and finding that the pedagogy if it has been aligned with assessment is self-serving and less onerous. • The result – the student is more self-directed and the teacher’s role changes from leader and driver to co-worker.