27 November 2017

Assessment for Learning

Over the next week, parents of boys in Year 11 and Year 12 will receive their son's Semester 1 report. The reading of your son's report always brings with it an opportunity to discuss his progress, effort and goals for the coming semester. These opportunities are valuable and are not limited to the upcoming House Head meetings.

Following the recent Year 11 and 12 WACE examination period, many teachers have observed a student culture that focuses on the level of achievement. Students can often be heard saying, "What did I (you) get?" or receiving an assessment item back and focusing immediately on the result or the rank, understandably, however, then not taking time to establish how the result was generated. Of concern is when students submit assessment tasks with the same weaknesses as previous work. Not only were the students more interested in the grade than in the comments, the comments were not serving as intended - to improve learning.

When discussing your son's report, an examination result or an assignment, avoid just asking, "What mark did you get?" Rather, discuss elements of the assessment task that your son perceives to have performed well in and ask him to identify areas that may be improved in future efforts. By asking boys to reflect and make judgements about their work, learning is enhanced. The critical reference points for learning is your son's own prior work and the aspirations and goals for future learning, not how he compared to others in the class or cohort. We should be interested not only in evaluating how competent a student may be, but how competent he may become.

Rob McEwan