Thursday, 3 October 2013

High (or otherwise) Quality Assessment Tasks

A couple of weeks ago our school undertook a whole school professional development day about developing high quality assessment tasks. (Specifically in maths, as that's been the whole school development priority this year.) It was a great challenge, and quite confronting for many people as the process involved sharing and evaluating each other's assessment tasks.  I really enjoyed the process, but not everyone was as enamoured. I even appreciated the need for us all to use the same template to present our assessments along with the pertinent curriculum links/context etc.

(Disclaimer: my co-teacher was our presenter for the day so I was lucky enough to know ahead of time  how the day was going to flow which probably added to my level of comfort. I'm not usually that in love with having my work examined and judged - as you probably figured out in this post.)

The day's discussion  (for me) centred around a few key questions:
      by Ludwg
  • When and how do we design assessment tasks?
  • Does this assessment allow students to demonstrate understanding that deserves an A or B?
  • Does this assessment ask for higher order thinking or merely fluency?
  • Does this assessment allow students to demonstrated their understanding in a new context?
  • Does this assessment task really assess what the achievement standards in the Australian Curriculum state?

They seem like obvious questions until  you really stop and use them to critically assess your own assessment tasks.  Ha! I came away feeling pretty confident about some of my assessments and almost embarrassed of others. There was a lot of self-talk happening for me: 'it's good to identify these issues because it means I can work on fixing them' took a lot more effort than the much louder 'oh boy how on earth did you not see what problem before now?'

The synergy of working in a team was a highlight of the day for me. You know that whole thing about two heads being better than one? Well. I know not everyone feels that way but I LOVE bouncing ideas off others so this process pleased me greatly. Bring on more team planning time I say!

How do you design your assessment tasks? Do you have a favoured format? Have you ever had something work amazingly well? I'd love to hear about it. 

This relates to the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers...
Standard 5.1 Assess student learning  
Standard 6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice
Standard 6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice
Standard 7.2 Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements

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