Module 1 - Why Assess?

During the meeting ask your teachers to complete these six tasks:

Task 1

Task 1: Group Discussion – Why Assess?

Time: 15 minutes

In groups, discuss the purpose of assessment.

Allow 10 minutes for discussion and complete Task 1: Why assess?

Feedback: After the discussion show teachers this feedback and ask them to compare this with their own responses. Give them an opportunity to discuss any items not mentioned in the feedback. Task 1: Benefits of Assessment for Teacher and Pupil

Benefits for the Teacher

Teachers benefit because assessment:

  • encourages reflection on practice and planning;
  • informs practice and planning;
  • identifies where a pupil is at a point in time;
  • promotes professional development;
  • encourages dialogue about learning in the classroom and at whole-school level;
  • provides a mechanism for accountability to parents and other stakeholders;
  • provides a sense of focus on what is being taught and learned;
  • assessment is part of the teaching and learning cycle; and
  • celebrates success.

Benefits for the Pupil

Pupils benefit because assessment:

  • encourages dialogue about learning;
  • encourages pupils to reflect on their learning and make improvements;
  • enables pupils to identify strengths and areas for development;
  • identifies the learning goals; and
  • celebrates success.

Task 2

Task 2: Types of Assessment

Time: 10 minutes

This task gives teachers an opportunity to discuss the:

  • pros and cons of different types of assessment; and
  • types of assessments carried out in their school.

Working in groups, ask your teachers to:

  1. Complete Task 2: What type of assessments do you use in your school and what are the pros and cons of their use?;
  2. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of assessment types; and
  3. List and reflect on the types of assessment carried out in their school.

Your teachers may realise that the benefits of some types of assessment make others redundant or that some assessment types have too many drawbacks and are perhaps not required.

Take feedback and allow time for discussion.

Task 3

Task 3: Assessment Uses

Time: 10 minutes

Ask teachers to identify their uses of assessment types including: Diagnostic, formative, summative and/or evaluative.

Next, show Task 3: Assessment uses and definitions. Ask the teachers to think about the assessment types used in their school and which categories these fall into.

Using this resource, ask teachers to:

  • define each of the four assessment uses; and
  • think about the assessment types used in school and the categories these fall into.

You may wish to discuss with your teachers that the use of assessment is the most important factor and that this use should be meaningful and have an impact on both the practice of teachers and the learning of pupils.

The Big Picture of Assessment and Reporting

Take 5 mintues to point out:

  • How the purposes of assessment link with the Northern Ireland Curriculum; and
  • How assessment outcomes may be used at classroom, co-ordinator and school level.

The Big Picture

Download the The Big Picture of Assessment and Reporting.

Task 4

Task 4: Assessment Types and Uses

Time: 10 minutes

Using the resource Task 4: Assessment types and their uses ask teachers to categorise these types of assessments. You may also wish to include other assessment types relevant to your school.

Time: 5 minutes

Now show the completed table:

Assessment Tasks and Uses Completed Table

You may wish to discuss the table.  For example, PTE may be perceived as giving more meaningful diagnostic information, as it uses a standardised test, when compared to the Levels of Progression.  However, it is important to emphasise that the use of the assessment data is the most important thing.

Next, show teachers this information, taken from the GTCNI’s Teaching: The Reflective Profession document. Discuss assessment as part of day-to-day teaching practice: Task 4: Assessment Competence Statements.

Time: 5 minutes

Task 5

Task 5: Formative Assessment in Action

Time: 10 minutes

This diagram shows formative assessment in action:

Formative Assessment In Action

Formative assessment in action

Ask your teachers to consider:

  • to what extent they are carrying out formative assessment;
  • how assessment outcomes are used to inform future planning, teaching and learning in their school; and
  • the purpose of the Levels of Progression in the Northern Ireland Curriculum.

Time: 5 minutes

Role of the teacher in assessment

Clarify the role of the teacher in the planning, teaching, learning and assessment cycle. Take five minutes to discuss the elements of this process, including:

  • selecting the most appropriate form of assessment;
  • planning when to carry out assessment;
  • planning to teach the appropriate skill or knowledge;
  • carrying out assessment ensuring there is coverage;
  • giving pupils opportunities to participate in their own assessment; and
  • using the assessment outcomes in a variety of ways, for example use the Levels of Progression to move pupils on in learning, inform your teaching and report to others.

Task 6

Task 6: Use of the Levels of Progression

Time: 10 minutes

Recap on discussions and consider the implication for future school development. You may wish to watch the short video clip with your teachers: Video 2 - Why assess The Big Picture?, a principal's perspective on the use of the Levels of Progression. After your teachers have watched this video, discuss whether you agree or disagree with this principal? Consider what best practice looks like.

Throughout tasks 1-5 you have been able to:

  • categorise the uses of assessment;
  • recognise the pros and cons of assessment types and associated outcomes;
  • discuss how assessment outcomes can be used to inform future planning, teaching and learning; and
  • reflect on the purpose of the Levels of Progression in the Northern Ireland Curriculum.

Now focus on the last two learning outcomes of the module:

  • identify your school’s current position in terms of using the Levels of Progression; and
  • identify the next steps for your school.

Ask teachers to work in groups and give one question to each group:

  • How familiar are we with the requirements for the Levels of Progression?
  • Who uses the Levels of Progression in our school?/What are they used for?
  • Does our school use the Levels of Progression formatively/summatively?
  • Do we use the Levels of Progression when planning?
  • How do we need to change our current practice?

An appointed scribe should record the comments from the group and these should be collated for your use at the end of the workshop. Allow 5 minutes for this discussion and a further 5 minutes for feedback so that everyone has had an opportunity to express an opinion.

Round off the workshop by referring teachers back to the initial learning outcomes in Module 1 and advise teachers of the next stage of the process.

Useful resource: The Inspection and Self-Evaluation Framework (ISEF): Effective Practice and Self-Evaluation Questions for Primary