There are different purposes for assessment. Assessment for learning (formative) helps identify a student’s current understandings to help them attain higher levels of performance. Assessment of learning (summative) indicates the standards achieved by students at particular points in their schooling. Diagnostic assessment determines the nature of the students’ learning and provides appropriate feedback or intervention.
To ensure effective Assessment practices are in operation, St Dympna’s ensures appropriate processes are in place for the following purposes:
Identifying an individual student’s learning needs
Identifying starting points for teaching
Diagnosing individual student’s strengths and difficulties
Applying appropriate intervention strategies
Monitoring individual student’s progress over time
Tracking student’s progress over time
Promoting real and deep learning
Probing student’s understanding of key concepts
Helping students see the progress they are making
Reporting student achievement based on sound evidence and shared understanding
At St Dympna’s, we make use of appropriate assessment information from multiple sources to form and drive teaching and learning. As a whole-of-school approach, it is characterised by openness and collaboration and involve systematic collection and analysis of evidence of student learning as well as appropriate monitoring and reporting of student progress. Some of the procedures to ensure this occurs at St Dympna’s include:
1. Collection of Evidence and Data
Using information gathered from a variety of high quality assessment instruments over a period of time can help the teacher to create a detailed picture of a child’s progress and achievement. The data needs to provide teachers with information that informs teaching and learning so that they can make appropriate adjustments to their practice. Comprehensive evidence and data gathering will take place throughout the learning process.
2. Recording Data
Record keeping is an important part of the assessment process. Records of assessment are evidence that assessment has taken place. Records can provide the basis for forming judgements about student performance on multiple tasks, for assessing the reliability of the tasks and for mapping student progress. Recording also helps teachers reflect on their practice.
3. Analysis of Data
All assessment information should lead to improvement in the child’s learning. The teacher decides what information is valuable and how it can be used to enhance the particular child’s learning. Processes are in place to ensure staff at St Dympna’s can effectively analyse and interpret the relevant data and make practical inferences. Data reflection on such issues as student growth over time, class against cohort information and cohort against system are essential to the teaching and learning process.
4. Student Improvement- Feedback
Learning is enhanced when teachers identify and work from individual student’s current knowledge and skills rather than from what we expect them to know at their given age or year level. Appropriate assessment is essential to ensure teachers know where students are in their learning and can plan and implement appropriate strategies to improve the student’s learning. Relevant and specific intervention or support programs are required to promote student improvement in learning.
Learners learn best when they understand what they are trying to learn and what is expected of them. They also learn best when they are given regular feedback about the quality of their work and what they can do to make it better. Timely, relevant and useable feedback is one of the most powerful ways of improving student achievement. It must be focussed on what the individual student needs to do to improve (i.e. task-involving) rather than on the learner and his or her self-esteem. Effective learners see themselves as the owners of their learning when they understand learning intentions and the criteria for success.
5. Reporting of Student Progress
Reporting is communicating information on student learning to a range of audiences, in differing forms, for various purposes. The key purpose of reporting student achievement is to improve student learning. School Reporting acknowledges student achievement over the reporting period.
To make judgements for reporting purposes, teachers consider a selection of evidence of student learning, provided through student responses to assessment. Teachers then make an informed, balanced judgement about the quality of the evidence across the assessable elements. Teachers will then moderate the evidence of student learning and compare their judgements in order to promote consistency across the school.
St Dympna’s report twice yearly using a five-point scale in all learning areas. Other areas such as student attributes, effort and attendance will also be included in the Report.
6. Monitoring and Tracking Procedures
It is the professional responsibility of the school and the individual teacher to know both the level of achievement and the progress of the individual learner at any point in time. Regular focussed monitoring and tracking of student progress is essential. Class teachers, Learning Support teachers and Administration meet regularly to monitor student progress with appropriate intervention strategies allocated to identified students. Tracking procedures and timelines will be implemented to ensure all assessment information is current and accessible to relevant staff.