21st Century Learning & Assessment

Reflecting on Student Assessment and Evaluation

The Foundations of Assessment and Evaluation (LE 1): What is it? Why is it Important?

The Ontario Ministry of Education states the following in their Growing Success document: "The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning."

Understanding the importance of assessment and evaluation is central to guiding learning and growth. For educators, learning is a continuum that requires us to not only experience a gradual release of responsibility, but to convey and model this learning style for students.

The Seven Fundamental Principles

Assessment and evaluation is shaped by the following which is taken from The Growing Success Document:

"To ensure that assessment, evaluation, and reporting are valid and reliable, and that they lead to the improvement of learning for all students, teachers use practices and procedures that:

• are fair, transparent, and equitable for all students;

• support all students, including those with special education needs, those who are learning the language of instruction (English or French, ESL/ELL), and those who are First Nation, Métis, or Inuit;

• are carefully planned to relate to the curriculum expectations and learning goals and, as much as possible, to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students;

• are communicated clearly to students and parents at the beginning of the school year or course and at other appropriate points throughout the school year or course;

• are ongoing, varied in nature, and administered over a period of time to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning;

• provide ongoing descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement;

• develop students’ self-assessment skills to enable them to assess their own learning, set specific goals, and plan next steps for their learning."


Assessment For, Of and As Learning

Effective Assessment Strategies (LE 2)

Students must be aware of what it is that they are learning and why they are learning it. Students need to understand how their learning is transferable to “real life.”

  • Learning objective or goal should be prominent;
  • Cooperatively established success criteria are clear to both students and teacher;
  • Success criteria are clearly posted in the classroom and comprehensive in order that they can easily be transferred to a learning task;
  • Teachers ensure diverse instructional and assessment practices;
  • Consideration is given to learning styles, interests, strengths, needs, big ideas, (GAP ANALYSIS);

  • Assessment practices are a valid and accurate measure of what students really know by tracking student learning in a variety of ways and over a specified period of time. (Checklists, anecdotal notes, audio recordings, etc. );
  • Newly demonstrated learning replaces the old;
  • Growth must be tracked and made note of through more than summative tasks/tests;
  • Backwards design is an essential way in which curriculum planning and assessment transpires;
Solution Tree: Jay McTighe on the Backward Design Framework
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Collaborative Practices and Environment (LE 3)

Teacher practice affects student practice. Knowledge of current educational practice and methodology drives commitment to student engagement through the vehicle of universal design, backwards planning and differentiation.

The following areas are to be considered when a community of learning is to be most conducive to learning and growth:

  • Effective Feedback (timely, targeted, descriptive)
  • Peer and Self Assessment (explicitly taught skills)
  • Portfolios (Showcase, process, reflective)
  • Moderated Marking (linked with exemplars and success criteria)
  • Collaborative Inquiry

Adapting Program and Assessment (LE 4)

It is essential that we consider equity among ALL students when examining assessment practices. We KNOW that not all students learn in the same way and that coming to know our community of learning is beneficial to all. Consideration of the following is integral to this aspect of assessment and evaluation and minimizing gaps in learning:

  • English language learners/English as a second language students
  • Special Education
  • First Nations, Metis, Inuit culture
  • Prior knowledge and experiences of students (Content matters!)
  • Effective questioning
  • Technology

Animal School

Personal Reflection on Learning

What Did I Learn?

The learning curve for me in this course has been astounding! I continue to be struck with the resounding importance of Fullan's moral imperative realized; the notion that effective pedagogy leads to innovative student learning and that learning is a continuum requiring us as educators to purposefully and explicitly model Learning as the Work.

What Did I Do Already?

Throughout the course, I have consistently conveyed the role of the occasional teacher in relation to classroom assessment. Before taking the course, I was more limited in my relative understanding of the tremendous impact that I continue to have in the regular classroom teacher's absence. I understand the importance of my observations, checklists and rubric assessments, but have come to ascertain just how essential effective questioning can be.

What Will I Implement?

As a component of my professional goals, I plan to continue my learning of effective questioning along with an exploration of moderated marking and how this might look to an occasional teacher group. The opportunity to put skill into action will further drive understanding. Organizing a learning opportunity to introduce occasional teachers to effective questioning could have tremendous impact on students everywhere!

I also plan to further my understanding of issues connected to assessment by exploring additional resources by the following:

  • Lucy West
  • Carol Ann Tomlinson
  • Anne Davies
  • Jay McTighe