We had an almost 100% turnout for parent teacher interviews this week. Given the unusual year we have had, it has been the first opportunity to meet with parents to swap information. The teachers have now had a chance to really get to know their class as individuals – their strengths and weaknesses. Teachers have used a number of assessment tools, which, along with formative assessment, has been the vehicle for teachers making judgements as to how a child is tracking against the NZ Curriculum levels; the details which are shared at the interviews.
Assessment tools are used to give teachers a snapshot of where the child is at right now. We use the data to give an overall picture of achievement across the year levels and where we identify areas of strength or weakness, we can make decisions about professional development for teachers, additional programmes for children, targeted interventions for individuals. Teachers also unpack their class data to look for gaps in order to plan for plugging those gaps or extending children.
Formative assessment is, however, arguably more important for teachers in the classroom setting. Formative assessment is defined as: the process used by teachers and students to recognise and respond to student learning in order to enhance that learning during the learning. (Black & Wiliam).
What it means is that the teacher is cuing into what a child is doing/not doing throughout the lesson. They then make a judgement on the spot as to what additional help the child needs in order to be successful and immediately works with the child. It may be that the teacher notices that a group of children aren’t getting it, so he or she brings the group together for some micro teaching. At the end of the lesson, if appropriate, the teacher quickly records who needs more help and the specifics of that help, or they note who has quickly mastered it and needs extension. They use this information in their weekly planning.
The process of learning is quite structured. Teachers let children know what it is that they are going to learn – a learning intention. The teacher then models the desired learning, discusses it, shows exemplars. Then the teacher co constructs success criteria with the children. The children head off to start. The teacher roams, noting the points as outlined above and acting on them. When children have finished the task, they check their work against the success criteria, self assessing and deciding what they need to do to improve. They can also get their work peer assessed against the success criteria and get feedback from their peers. They discuss their learning with the teacher, showing where they have met the success criteria. The teacher gives then feedback, which they then act on. It is a cyclical process of learning and ensures that the learning is enhanced during the learning.
I hope this hasn’t confused you. Suffice to say, the act of making a judgement as to how a child is tracking against the NZ Curriculum levels is very robust and relies on the effective formative assessment practices of teachers.
We are currently strengthening teacher practice in formative assessment with schoolwide professional development led by an external facilitator. Our goal is to be even more effective at identifying need, then planning learning programmes to enhance the learning.
Just a reminder about children wearing the VAS uniform. I have noticed some colourful clothing being worn underneath polo shirts as well as colourful socks and tights being worn. Please ensure that anything worn under the polo is navy or white. Socks and tights must be white, black or navy.