This is always a great time of year; everyone is full of expectation for the year ahead. The children now know their teacher and are bonding well with new friends. The teachers are also getting to know the capabilities of all the children in their class and organising groups is well underway. Over the next few weeks we will be doing some schoolwide assessments so that we can see the starting point for comparing achievement from year beginning to year end. More importantly though, teachers use the information from the various assessments to identify gaps in individual children’s knowledge and understanding.
Assessment is a vital part of the teaching and learning programme. If we don’t assess where the children are at, how do we know what to teach them? How do we, and they, know what they need to learn next in order to improve? We use two types of assessments; summative assessments, which are tests which give scores, and formative assessments, which is where the teacher notes during the teaching and learning programmes, where children have gaps in their learning. But we need to be mindful of not over using summative assessment; taking the plant out of the pot every week to check on the growth of the roots, won’t make the plant grow any quicker! Tending and nurturing and providing the right nutrients will make it grow quicker. As with children’s growth and learning we provide the right nutrients and environment to make sure they grow well.
Teachers support children to notice how they are going with their learning, where they are at, where to next. They use formative assessment to ensure that they plan appropriate strategies and activities for individuals or groups of children. The Ministry of Education states ‘formative assessment is even more important now that our approaches to teaching and learning have become so varied. Inquiry learning, project based learning, cross curricular learning, play based learning – these all require excellent curriculum and assessment knowledge and constant attention to student actions so that teachers are able to ‘notice, recognise and respond’ to the needs of the students in their care’.
Formative assessment is usually considered to consist of the following:
- Being clear about what is to be learnt and why – learning intentions and co constructed success criteria shared with students
- Children are active participants in formative assessment through having access to learning progressions, self evaluating against learning intentions using the success criteria, setting learning goals / targets.
- Focused feedback, both oral and written around the learning intentions and next steps, questioning and prompts support learning
To that end, we are reviewing assessment practices across the school. We are undertaking a review of the VAS curriculum this year so we can develop a responsive curriculum moving forward. This development, along and a deep understanding of the place of assessment in learning programmes go hand in hand.
Chaos at the School Gate
When you are dropping your children off, or picking them up, please remember to be mindful of road rules, particularly parking regulations. A reminder that you cannot park on yellow lines and neither can you park across, or encroach on driveways.
As part of the Travelwise initiative, we suggest that you arrange for your children to walk a couple of hundred metres to a designated spot. You will be able to park easily while you wait for them, the children will enjoy the independence and you won’t get caught up in all the traffic.