By Nathan Woods
This is an assessment plan for The World of Advertising, a course that will be taught at Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery (ATUD), a special character secondary school in Christchurch, New Zealand. The course is designed for students working at levels five and six of the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007); it will run for three hours per week over a five week block. The plan is divided into four sections. Section one provides a brief rationale for the plan, highlighting key aims and guiding principles. Section two describes the plan in action, separating it into four core strategies: (1) identifying key learning outcomes; (2) establishing a climate for learning; (3) involving students in assessment; and (4) collaboration. Section three explains and analyses key features of the plan, showing how the core strategies work together to enhance students’ motivation and self-directed learning. Finally, in section four, I respond critically to some potentially contentious issues. Overall, this plan establishes a credible vision of assessment, one that promotes powerful lifelong learning (Carr, 2004).
This plan is designed to be integrated and cohesive. Learning outcomes reflect powerful learning, while remaining sensitive to cultural contexts, policy, and practical requirements, and all aspects of the plan support the primary purposes of assessment: improving learning and teaching, and developing the assessment capability of learners (Absolum, Flockton, Hattie, Hipkins, & Reid, 2009; Ministry of Education, 2011). The New Zealand Ministry of Education’s (2011) key principles of assessment underpin this plan. They include: placing students at the center of learning and assessment; using the New Zealand Curriculum to underpin assessment; building the assessment capability of students as a key goal; promoting shared responsibility; using a range of evidence from multiple sources; and developing quality relationships to support assessment practices. The plan facilitates reciprocal, open conversations that ensure students’ cultural backgrounds and values are recognized and that assessment practices do not alienate or demotivate them (Absolum et al., 2009). Flexibility is built into the plan, allowing adaptations to be made based on information gathered about students’ interests, goals, learning needs, and perceptions (Brown & Hirschfeld, 2007; Ekholm, Zumbrunn, & Conklin, 2015; Miller, 2009; Timperley & Parr, 2009). Throughout the plan, students, teachers, and parents use assessment information to improve students’ assessment capability and to encourage self-regulated learning (Ministry of Education, 2007).
Please note: this section provides a basic description of this assessment plan in action; terminology and key principles are explained and analysed in the following section.
Strategy One: Identify Key Learning Outcomes:
(A): Produce a Learning Goals Matrix for a unit on visual language. Refer to relevant Achievement Objectives from the New Zealand Curriculum ((NZC)Ministry of Education, 2007), achievement standards from the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), New Zealand’s major high school qualification, and New Zealand Qualifications Authority annotated exemplars. The matrix should promote a broad view of learning, one that acknowledges the role values and dispositions play in enabling students to become confident, lifelong learners (Ministry of Education, 2007). Do not share this matrix with students until strategy 3(K).
Here is a link to the Learning Goals Matrix for The World of Advertising: Learning Goals Matrix
Strategy Two: Establish A Climate for Learning
(A): Post an audiovisual message for students to view as part of the ATUD Individual Education Meeting (IEM) and course selection process. Introduce the topic of advertising, point out some ‘big’ questions and controversies, highlight key learning outcomes, and invite students to take an active role in learning and assessment. Students at ATUD attend regular Individual Education Meetings. During these meetings, students, along with their parents and homebase learning advisor (similar to a form teacher) discuss progress, set goals, and select new courses (Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, 2014). In the message, ask students to think about, discuss, and answer three key questions. Begin the first class with a discussion of students’ responses, and use this information to adapt planning and instruction:
- What are some ‘big’ questions you have about advertising?
- How does this topic connect to your goals and interests?
- What helps you to learn?
Here is a (very rough) example of what this welcome message might look like:
Strategy Three: Involving Students in Assessment
(A): Introduce the key learning verbs in the Learning Goals Matrix: describe, explain, analyze. It will not be necessary to introduce the concept of a ‘critical response’ at this stage, as students are expected to respond critically to texts at levels seven and eight of the NZC (Ministry of Education, 2007).
(B): Ask students to describe, explain and analyze everyday objects. For example, “How would you describe this whiteboard marker? Can you explain how it works? Can you analyze how I used it to write these questions on the whiteboard, so that you could see them clearly?” Prompt students to attend to the key learning verbs.
(C): Show students a static image for an advertisement and ask similar questions: “Describe this image? Explain how it creates a mood, or how it communicates an idea? Analyze how it evokes a response from its target audience?” Prompt students to attend to the key learning verbs, and challenge them to apply the Intellectual Standards (Paul & Elder, 2006, p. 87). For example, “Can you be more specific? What are the most significant features?”
(D): Students break into groups and find an interesting static image to describe, explain, and analyze. Groups present their work to the class and ask for feedback on what they did well and one or two things they could improve. Before giving feedback ask students to list the criteria they will base their feedback on.
(E): Students write definitions for the learning verbs describe, explain, and analyze. Use a ‘think, pair, share’ process: students think about their definition individually, then in twos, then in small groups, before reporting back to the whole class. The class collaborates to develop definitions that represent a shared understanding.
(F): Show students resource three (below), DEAR Student, which provides definitions of the key learning verbs, based on an analysis of NCEA visual language standards and NZQA exemplars. Students discuss similarities and differences between the class’s definitions and those provided, suggesting changes.
(G): Students work in groups designing and producing illustrations, like the examples in resource three (above), DEAR Student, to supplement their written definitions of the key verbs. Students share their images with the class for discussion and feedback.
(H): Ask students, “What makes a good description, explanation, or analysis? Write students’ responses on the whiteboard. Hand out NCEA visual language exemplars (with annotations removed). Ask students to order the exemplars from best to worst. Once they have completed their rankings, they form small groups to discuss their decisions, attempting to arrive at a consensus, before reporting back to the whole class. The class discusses the rankings and attempts to arrive at an overall consensus.
(I): Next, students go back into pairs, select one of the exemplars, and write feedback on it, which outlines what was done well and what could be done to improve it. Share feedback with small groups. Groups summarize ideas for the class.
(J): With the whole class, return to the to the question, “What makes a good description, explanation, or analysis?” Elicit further responses from students and record them on the whiteboard.
(K): Show students resource one, the Learning Goals Matrix, and ask them to point out the similarities and differences between their descriptions and those in the Matrix. Also, draw students’ attention to the Intellectual Standards (Paul & Elder, 2006) and Habits of Mind (Costa & Kallick, 2000b).
(L): Prompt students to generate descriptions of behaviors they would observe if a person were applying a particular Habit of Mind. For example, “What would we see or hear a person doing if that person were persistent” (Costa & Kallick, 2000b, p. 35). Suggest to students that they monitor their learning throughout this course, looking for signs of these behaviors.
(M): View and discuss one or two television commercials with the class. Prompt students to describe, explain, and analyze the visual and oral features of the commercials. Where necessary, provide correct terminology, and show students how to incorporate academic concepts into their interpretations. For example:
Sally (Student): “In this commercial, the lights are in lines, and they cut through the picture; and all the colors are greenish, like everything is inside a machine”.
Teacher: “I noticed that too. Does anybody know what it is called when lights streak through a shot like that? No? Well, that’s called directional lighting. If you Google ‘directional lighting’ you can find some good examples online…OK, now that we know what directional lighting is, why do you think it might have been used in this commercial? How did they want their audience to respond?”
Mark (Student): Maybe they used directional lighting to make it spooky.
Teacher: I see. What do others think about that? Do you think the shot feels spooky? What else could help to achieve that effect, and why would the advertisers want us to feel that way?
Continue building on students’ answers, establishing a reciprocal cycle of questioning, modelling, and feedback. Prompt students to consider broader social implications: “What values does this advertisement communicate? How are women represented? What might be the consequences for society?”
(N): Students break into small groups and choose a television advertisement to describe, explain, and analyze. Teacher circulates, observing students’ learning behaviors, and challenging students to reflect on their use of Intellectual Standards (Paul & Elder, 2006, p. 87) and Habits of Mind (Costa & Kallick, 2000b). Groups present their work to the class. Students provide groups with feedback, pointing out what they did, and suggesting one or two things they could improve next time. Prompt students to relate their feedback to the Learning Goals Matrix.
(O): Working independently, students choose an advertisement to describe explain and analyze. Ask students to choose an advertisement they think will be interesting to work with, and encourage them to consider the wider social implications of their advertisement. They can present their work in any appropriate form: a written report; an oral or visual presentation; a visual essay; etcetera. Students use the Learning Goals Matrix to set personal goals for this assignment and write them in their notebooks. Provide them with an example:
In the group work, I found it difficult to link the different parts of my analysis together. So, in this task I will focus on doing that better. When we got feedback from the class, one of the other students said they found it useful to begin with the ‘big’ ideas, such as what the mood of the advertisement was, and what the values were, and then figured out how the different elements of visual and oral language worked together to produce those effects. I’ll try that out this time, and see how well it works for me.
(P): Students peer mark each other’s work on the television commercials. Encourage students to ask peers for feedback related to their personal goals, and to try and link the feedback to the Learning Goals Matrix. They should ask, “What do you think I have done well? Which bit do you find really interesting or persuasive? What are one or two things I could do to improve?” When they receive feedback, students should record it in their notebooks and use it to review their work; making any changes they feel will improve it. Students submit their work to the teacher with a written self-reflection (or audio) file attached. In their self-reflections, students reflect on their progress towards their goals, with reference to the Learning Goals Matrix, and they discuss how they used peer feedback to help revise their work.
(Q): Provide feedback to learners. Relate feedback to learners’ self-reflections, personal goals and the Learning Goals Matrix. Target feedback at the task, process, and self-regulation levels (Hattie & Timperley, 2007), as in this example:
I enjoyed reading your description of the Barbie Doll advertisement. Your learning goal for this task was to structure your description to produce a vivid image four your reader, and to explain a range of visual and oral features.
You described the visual and oral features in detail, and structured your description to produce a cohesive and connected image (relational). You also explained how a range of visual and oral features created effects (multistructural). For example, you explained how the extreme close up at the beginning produced a sense of suspense, and how the soundtrack created excitement.
There are a couple of things you can focus on next time: Think carefully about your word choices. Using interesting, specific nouns and vivid verbs will help you to produce a more captivating image (extended abstract). Also, try to explain how the different visual and oral features work together to produce a mood or to communicate an idea (relational).
You followed up on the feedback you received during the group task, by incorporating a wider range of visual and oral features into you interpretation. However, when you started this task, I noticed that you jumped straight into writing up your response. Last term we discussed the writing process. How could you apply this process to your work on visual language? Do you think it would be useful to spend more time planning, revising, and discussing your work before you submit it?
Hopefully this feedback will be useful during your next student lead learning conference. Remember to let me know what goals, and strategies you identify during your conference, so we can use them to inform our planning for this class.
(R): Return feedback to students and give them time to review it and discuss it with their peers, homebase learning advisor, and parents. Follow up with individual conferencing with each student. Decide together if they are ready to attempt an NCEA internal assessment task on visual language. Set a due date for the task, as required by the assessment guidelines, and provide further formative feedback on the work after it is submitted. Inform students that they need to work independently on this task, with minimal teacher guidance.
Strategy Four: Collaboration
(A): Seek feedback on the Learning Goals Matrix from colleagues and students. Ask students if the descriptors make sense, and how it could be made clearer. Ask other teachers if the Matrix aligns with their understating of progress and expectations set out in the New Zealand Curriculum and the NCEA achievement standards. Make adaptations as necessary.
(B) Moderate students work with colleagues. Ask several colleagues to independently mark samples. Then discuss independent judgments, noting similarities and differences, attempting to arrive at consensus. Discuss the reliability of the Learning Goals Matrix, and make adaptations if necessary.
(C): With colleagues, discuss the instructional and assessment strategies used during the unit, explaining what went well and what could be improved. Ask for feedback and suggestions.
Explanation and Analysis
This plan establishes clear learning goals, which are designed to guide instruction, and to engage students as participants in assessment. When students lack clarity about learning goals, or when their goals are poorly aligned with their teachers’ instructional aims, it is difficult for them to maintain motivation, or to regulate their learning (Timperley & Parr, 2009). Unfortunately, teachers often lack knowledge of their students’ learning goals, or their attitudes towards assessment (Hattie, 2013; Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006; Timperley & Parr, 2009). However, this can be overcome when teachers help students to understand learning goals by way of open, collaborative discussions, the use of marking rubrics and exemplars, and the promotion of peer and self assessment strategies (Hattie, 2012; Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006; Timperley & Parr, 2009). All of these strategies are adopted in this plan.
To develop clear learning goals, I analyzed relevant resources to create learning criteria and progressions that were expressed in clear, concrete language (Hattie, 2012, p. 57). NCEA standards in the English learning area contain key verbs that demarcate learning expectations at levels one, two, and three – usually completed by students in years 11, 12, and 13 respectively. At level one, students describe and explain how features of studied texts create effects; at level two they analyze how and why features of studied texts create effects for different purposes; and at level three they analyze and respond critically to features of studied texts. I developed clearly stated progressions, which linked to the key learning verbs from NCEA, and which were aligned with the NCEA grade boundaries for Low Not Achieved, Not Achieved, High Not Achieved, Achieved, Merit, and Excellence. The completed Learning Goals Matrix provided a visual representation of progress over time, and across NCEA levels.
In developing the progressions, I drew on Biggs and Collis’s (1982) taxonomy: the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO). SOLO describes the qualitative level of a learner’s response to a task, and indicates appropriate next steps. Biggs and Collis found that learner’ abilities to respond to cues (questions, problems, tasks, etcetera) ranged from confused to maximal. Where a response was maximal, relevant data were produced, the interrelations between data sets identified, and hypotheses not present in the original data generated. Between confused and maximal, learners’ responses contained increasingly accurate connections between the cue and relevant data, and between data sets, to produce more comprehensive and integrated responses (Biggs & Collis, 1982, pp. 23-29). They labeled their learning progressions as: Prestructural; Unistructural; Multistructural; Relational; and, Extended Abstract (Biggs & Collis, 1982, pp. 24-25).
To supplement the SOLO taxonomy, and to avoid writing long, complex descriptors, I also drew on Paul and Elder’s Standards for Thinking (2006, p. 87), placing them at the top of the matrix to show that they applied to all of the criteria. According to Paul and Elder, good thinkers draw on nine universal intellectual standards to assess and improve their thinking. The standards are: clarity; accuracy; precision; relevance; depth; breadth; logic; significance; and fairness (2006, pp. 87-96). In combination, the intellectual standards and SOLO taxonomy helped me to produce clear descriptions of progress that were aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum Achievement Objectives, NCEA standards, and NZQA exemplars.
The NZC (Ministry of Education, 2007) vision, principles, values, and key competencies offer a broad view of learning, which equips individuals to meet the challenges of a complex, constantly changing world (Ministry of Education, 2007). To represent this broad view of learning, I drew on Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind (2000b). Habits of Mind are tendencies people have to behave in intelligent ways. They include such things as persisting, listening with understanding and empathy, and remaining open to continuous learning (Costa & Kallick, 2000a, p. 8). According to Boyes and Watts (2009, p. 1), learners can use the Habits of Mind as “guiding principles” (2009, p. 1) to inform and support successful lifelong learning. The Learning Goals Matrix depicts visual language learning criteria and progressions as embedded in, and interconnected with the Intellectual Standards (Paul & Elder, 2006, p. 87), and Habits of Mind (Costa & Kallick, 2000b). This broad view of learning encourages learners to stretch their curiosity and self-reliance (Smith, Davis, & Molloy, 2011).
As well as establishing clear goals, this assessment plan emphasizes the importance of feedback in supporting students’ self-regulated learning (Butler & Winne, 1995; Wynne Harlen, 2006; Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Feedback is integrated into classroom activities, taking into account the students’ existing values and beliefs (Absolum et al., 2009). Beginning with the Welcome Message, assessment conversations inform the content and style of instruction. Aligning feedback with information about students, and relating it to clear and explicit learning outcomes promotes mindful engagement with learning and builds students’ commitment to learning goals (Absolum et al., 2009; Hattie & Timperley, 2007). On the other hand, cues that prompt self or ego-involvement can have a negative impact on learning; therefore, feedback will focus on learning. Feedback is most effective when it relates to faulty interpretations of task requirements, rather the insufficient knowledge, in which case further instruction might be necessary (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). However, feedback on task characteristics alone may not generalize to other tasks. Good feedback, therefore, moves learners’ attention from task characteristics, to learning processes, to self-regulation (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). The movement from feedback on task, further instruction, and feedback on the processes of learning and self regulation can be observed in the extract of classroom conversation in strategy 3(M), and in the example of written feedback in strategy 3(Q).
Throughout this plan, there is a commitment to involving students as active partners in their learning and assessment (Absolum et al., 2009; Ministry of Education, 2011). With this aim in mind, self and peer assessment is built into the plan at all stages of learning and instruction. There is an emphasis on dialogue and joint decision-making (M Taras, 2010). Students are involved in identifying learning outcomes, using them to make judgments about their work (M Taras, 2010). They seek and receive feedback from peers, make adaptations based on feedback, and reflect on their progress and next steps with support and encouragement from their peers, teacher, and parents (M Taras, 2010). These self and peer assessment processes support students to develop their assessment capability, and to become increasingly competent self-directed learners (M Taras, 2010).
By making learning goals explicit, involving learners in setting goals, and focusing learners’ attention on progress this assessment plan is likely to enhance students’ motivation to learn (Wynne Harlen, 2006). Students who view classroom activities as interesting and related to learning goals are likely to develop a learning/mastery orientation, where they prioritize learning over social comparisons, such as grades, praise, or awards (Wynne Harlen, 2006). Where learners focus on progress and believe that their knowledge and skills are changeable, rather than fixed or innate, they are more likely to feel in control of their learning, to exert more effort, and to engage deeply with the content (Brophy, 2010, p. 87). On the other hand, learners who believe that their abilities are unchangeable, or that they have little control over their learning, will try to avoid challenges, and will rely on surface learning strategies (Brophy, 2010, p. 107). By involving learners in judgments about where they are going, how they are going, and what their next steps are, this plan aims to boost learners’ self esteem and self-efficacy (W Harlen, 2006; Hattie & Timperley, 2007).
Self-efficacy is a measure of how capable a learner feels in relation to a particular task or type of task, and is often developed in relation to past experiences (Brophy, 2010, p. 51). By representing learning outcomes in the form of progressions, by focusing feedback on what students can already do, and by establishing appropriately challenging next steps, this plan supports students self-efficacy beliefs in relation to rich learning goals. As learners become more focused on learning and develop a range of positive motivational beliefs, they are likely to become increasingly self-regulated learners (Wynne Harlen, 2006). The Welcome Message will focus students’ attention on significant aspects of the topic (Brophy, 2010, p. 27), on important learning goals, and will establish the expectation that they take an active role in assessment. Following that, a wide range of formative assessment practices work together to support students’ motivation to learn.
Assessment supports self-regulated learning when it is continuous and integrated into every aspect of instruction (Ruiz-Primo, 2011). In this plan, informal formative assessment is weaved into the ebb and flow of ongoing classroom interactions (Ruiz-Primo, 2011). Classroom conversations are informed by a clear understanding of learning goals, and are conducted in a way that makes learners thinking visible (Ruiz-Primo, 2011). During these conversations a range of information will be gathered to support instructional decisions. Furthermore, conversations are designed to be appropriately challenging, prompting students to apply the intellectual standards, and Habits of Mind. Interpreting students’ responses to questions and other activities does not require the teacher to provide overt, evaluative judgments. Rather, the teacher is instructed to build on students’ responses formatively through reflection, rephrasing, clarification, and inviting other questions (Ruiz-Primo, 2011). In the extract of classroom conversation from strategy 3(M), information from informal formative assessment is acted on in various ways – formulating feedback; adapting explanations to meet students learning needs; modeling; and providing cues and questions to address errors or misconceptions (Ruiz-Primo, 2011).
Furthermore, the integration of informal formative assessment will ensure valid, wide ranging assessment evidence is gathered to inform learning and teaching. Therefore, this plan emphasizes the key role of overall teacher judgments (Poskitt & Mitchell, 2012). Teachers are well placed to make judgments about students’ learning, as they can gather a range of evidence and share information with learners in a timely fashion, so that it can be used to inform next steps in learning and teaching (Poskitt & Mitchell, 2012). This plan facilitates assessment conversations, which generate ongoing information about goals and progress; also, the teacher observes learners interacting in a variety of settings – class conversations, group work, individual work, and one-to-one student-teacher conversations. Furthermore, by aligning assessment for this course with the IEM process, the teacher is able to gather and use information from the learners’ parents and homebase learning advisor about learners’ previous learning, learning needs, goals, interests, and motivation. However, to enhance the credibility of overall teacher judgments, judgments need to be based on shared understanding of learning outcomes, which is developed through using a range of assessment resources, including exemplars and verbal descriptions, along with sound moderation processes (Poskitt & Mitchell, 2012).
Moderation helps teachers to understand criteria and standards, as well as interactions between curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. In turn, this enables them to support students to become capable assessors of their own learning (Hodgen & Hipkins, 2011). On the other hand, teachers’ ‘expert’ knowledge can remain tacit, inaccessible and idiosyncratic, unless challenged through collaboration with peers (Poskitt & Mitchell, 2012). Moderation of student work can support teachers to reach a shared understanding of the meaning of a standard, and to reliably judge a range of evidence in relation to that standard. Insights teachers gain through moderation activities can support changes in teaching, leading to improvements in outcomes for students (Hodgen & Hipkins, 2011). The Learning Goals Matrix provides a basis upon which to make assessment decisions; however, the criteria and progressions are indicative only – they need to be deconstructed in the context of the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) and NCEA framework. The moderation processes outlined in strategy 4 (A-C) prompt teachers to scrutinize and adapt their judgments, to develop a shared understanding of outcomes, to align practice, and to make sure they are well positioned to support students’ efforts to assess their learning.
A Critical Response
I have developed clear and explicit learning outcomes for this plan; yet, at the same time, I have prioritized learner autonomy and self-regulation. This might seem like a contradiction; however, it reflects a desire to support student autonomy within a structured environment, where they will acquire powerful academic knowledge and skills. This does not mean students are positioned as passive recipients of this knowledge. On the contrary, student voice is actively sought, they are involved in constructing and reflecting on learning outcomes, and they are able to work towards those outcomes in ways that are relevant and meaningful to them. This level of autonomy is supported at ATUD, where learners choose their classes based on robust conversations with their parents and homebase learning advisor. The Welcome Message is designed to ‘feed into’ this process by encouraging students to make a careful and informed decision about whether or not this course is suited to their learning needs and interests. Furthermore, the Learning Goals Matrix contains broad, flexible goals, which are amenable to a wide range of topics and activities. According to Black and Wiliam (2009, p. 22): ‘The teacher must be accountable to the students in terms of taking on board, as far as reasonably practicable, the students’ needs, preferences, and so on, but they must also be accountable to the discipline into which the students are being enculturated, so that they can eventually operate as effective learners in that discipline”.
Another risk associated with the clear specification of learning goals is that it can lead to the fragmentation of learning, where a focus on criteria compliance overrides any concern for deep learning (Sadler, 2007; Torrance, 2007). Torrance (2007) found practices that discouraged student autonomy were common place in the learning and skills sector in the United Kingdom. These included: the use of detailed writing frames, templates, crib sheets, step-by-step instructions, and opportunities for multiple re-submissions on the same piece of assessed work. In many cases, learners accepted criteria as given and were not encouraged to identify and develop assessment criteria, or to reflect critically on those they were assigned. Thus, learners were passive in the assessment process, and became more, rather than less dependent on guidance from instructors (Torrance, 2007). To overcome the negative consequences of the over-specification of assessment criteria, this assessment plan prioritizes the active involvement of students in all aspects of assessment, including identifying outcomes. There is also a focus on progress and being challenged, rather than on compliance and meeting grade requirements. Furthermore, instruction encourages students’ to be increasingly independent in their learning, as scaffolding is gradually reduced. For example, when students decide they are ready to attempt an NCEA internal assessment task, they are aware they must work independently on the task, with only minimal guidance from the teacher.
Finally, this plan is sensitive to tensions that might arise due to the different purposes of assessment. On the one hand, assessment is a means of supporting the learning and motivation of all students. On the other hand, it is used as a mechanism for certification, selection and accountability (Timperley & Parr, 2009). As a result of the latter, assessment is often strongly associated with ‘high stakes’ consequences for learners, teachers, and schools (Paul Black & Wiliam, 2005; Earl, 2003). By emphasizing the performance aspects, and social purposes of assessment, high stakes summative tests can have a negative impact on students learning and motivation (Earl, 2003). However, the summative and formative purposes of assessment are not necessarily incompatible. In fact, summative judgments are essential components of all assessment, as valid and reliable formative feedback can only be generated on the basis of sound summative judgments (Maddalena Taras, 2009). The negative impacts of high stakes testing on students’ motivation to learn can be mitigated when a range of formative assessment practices are prioritized (P Black & Wiliam, 1998; Crooks, 1998; Harlen & R Deakin Crick, 2003; Rawlins, 2008). Therefore, the formative purposes of assessment are prioritized throughout this plan, prompting learners to focus on learning goals, progress, and self-regulation.
Credible assessment assesses powerful learning (Carr, 2004). This plan empowers learners to be confident, independent, lifelong learners. At the heart of the plan is a commitment to building students’ assessment capabilities. However, the interplay of a range of variables can influence learning, making assessment planning a dynamic and complex undertaking (Sadler, 2007). Students cannot improve their assessment capability alone; they need support and encouragement from their peers, their parents, and their teachers (Absolum et al., 2009; Ministry of Education, 2011). Therefore, this plan is built upon a belief in the power of responsive and reciprocal assessment conversations to establish a respectful instructional climate, where students can engage in deep, independent and collaborative learning. A key principle throughout the plan is a need for alignment of the purposes and processes of assessment, which is achieved through establishing clear learning goals, establishing a climate for deep learning, and collaboration. Feedback and instruction are designed to be responsive to students’ needs, interests, and goals, while aligning with clear and explicit learning outcomes. This allows students to plan, strategize, and reflect on their progress. Furthermore, by focusing students’ attention on learning and progress, this plan is designed to support students’ motivation to learn. There is also emphasis on gathering and using high quality assessment information to inform valid and reliable decisions about how to improve learning and instruction. This plan challenges students to take control of their learning, and to become increasingly independent, self-directed learner
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