This section contains an assessment definition and purposes of assessment including: assessment for, as and of learning. Assessment principles are outlined and PowerPoint presentations and workshops related to the assessment advice are provided. There is a link to the Reporting section of the web site.
Assessment is the ongoing process of gathering, analysing and reflecting on evidence to make informed and consistent judgements to improve future student learning.
Purposes of assessment
Assessment for improved student learning and deep understanding requires a range of assessment practices to be used with three overarching purposes:
- Assessment FOR learning - occurs when teachers use inferences about student progress to inform their teaching
- Assessment AS learning - occurs when students reflect on and monitor their progress to inform their future learning goals
- Assessment OF learning - occurs when teachers use evidence of student learning to make judgements on student achievement against goals and standards.
Principles for assessment
Substantial research exists on the characteristics of good practice for assessing student learning. This research is summarised in the following set of principles.
- The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student performance
Good assessment is based on a vision of the kinds of learning we most value for students and how they might best achieve these. It sets out to measure what matters most.
- Assessment should be based on an understanding of how students learn
Assessment is most effective when it reflects the fact that learning is a complex process that is multi-dimensional, integrated and revealed in student performance over time.
- Assessment should be an integral component of course design and not something to add afterwards
The teaching and learning elements of each program should be designed in full knowledge of the sorts of assessment students will undertake, and vice versa, so that students can demonstrate what they have learned and see the results of their efforts.
- Good assessment provides useful information to report credibly to parents on student achievement
A variety of assessment methods provide teachers with evidence of what students know and can do, and their particular strengths and weaknesses. Teachers can then report to parents on how far their child has progressed during the year, where they are compared to the relevant standards, and what the student, the parent and the teacher need do to improve the student's performance.
- Good assessment requires clarity of purpose, goals, standards and criteria
Assessment works best when it is based on clear statements of purpose and goals for the course, the standards which students are expected to achieve, and the criteria against which we measure success. Assessment criteria need to be understandable and explicit so students know what is expected of them from each assessment they encounter. Staff, students, parents and the community should all be able to see why assessment is being used, and the reasons for choosing each individual form of assessment in its particular context.
- Good assessment requires a variety of measures
In general, a single assessment instrument will not tell us all we need to know about student achievement and how it can be improved. Therefore, we need to be familiar with a variety of assessment tools so we can match them closely to the type of information we seek.
- Assessment methods used should be valid, reliable and consistent
Assessment instruments and processes should be chosen which directly measure what they are intended to measure. They should include the possibility of moderation between teachers where practical and appropriate to enhance objectivity and contribute to a shared understanding of the judgments that are made.
- Assessment requires attention to outcomes and processes
Information about the outcomes students have achieved is very important to know where each student ends up, but so too is knowing about their experiences along the way and, in particular, the kind of effort that led to these outcomes.
- Assessment works best when it is ongoing rather than episodic
Student learning is best fostered when assessment involves a linked series of activities undertaken over time, so that progress is monitored towards the intended course goals and the achievement of relevant standards.
- Assessment for improved performance involves feedback and reflection
All assessment methods should allow students to receive feedback on their learning and performance so assessment serves as a developmental activity aimed at improving student learning. Assessment should also provide students and staff with opportunities to reflect on both their practice and their learning overall.
Reporting is the process by which assessment information is communicated to help students, parents, teachers and the system to make decisions by providing information about what students know and can do, together with recommendations for their future learning.
See the Student reports web site for further details.
Presentations and workshops
Assessment presentation (PPT - 1,005Kb)
This presentation outlines the key concepts underlying effective assessment. Principals and leadership teams can present the PowerPoint slideshows to staff to familiarise them with the concepts of assessment for, as and of learning. It includes questions and activities as well as speaker notes.
Assessment Advice workshop
This workshop familiarises and deepens understanding of the Department’s Assessment Advice in relation to curriculum planning. The workshop takes approximately 90 minutes to complete and can be delivered in sections. This workshop consists of a PowerPoint presentation and two worksheets.
The Assessment Advice presentation (PPT - 621Kb) outlines the key concepts underlying effective assessment. Principals and leadership teams can present the PowerPoint slideshows to staff to familiarise them with the concepts of assessment for, as and of learning. It includes questions and activities as well as speaker notes.
Notes for the Assessment Advice PowerPoint presentation (Word - 57Kb) provide a complete set of the notes on each of the slides in this presentation.
Worksheet 1 (Word - 28Kb) assists teachers to compare their current understanding of assessment with the Victorian Department of Education’s Assessment Advice and supports Slide 5 of the ‘Assessment Advice’ PowerPoint presentation.
Worksheet 2 (Word - 26Kb) is a Y-Chart to be used on slides on 11, 15 and 20-24. This tool allows teachers to list assessment approaches for each type of assessment, assessment for learning, assessment as learning and assessment of learning.
These discussion starters are for use in a staff meeting or as a professional development activity. They are extracts from recent research into assessment and have a number of questions to encourage thinking and discussion on assessment for, as and of learning. The questions are a starter only and more can be added.