Dimension: curriculum planning and assessment

This dimension is part of the Excellence in Teaching and Learning priority and is identified as a high-impact​​ Improvement Initiative.


 

Definition

  • Students and their needs are at the centre of curriculum planning and delivery.
  • Curriculum implementation requires a shared set of values and a clear sense of purpose.
  • It provides a framework that articulates how student learning will be organised, taught and assessed.
  • The documented whole-school curriculum plan demonstrates how the school will implement the mandated curriculum (be it the Victorian F-10 Curriculum, VCE, VET or VCAL) and other learning experiences that will be offered.
  • It enables all students to become confident individuals, successful learners and responsible citizens.
  • Curriculum planning and assessment recognises that schools are working with a curriculum that is designed as a continuum of learning and that students can be anywhere along this continuum.
  • Effective teachers embed relevant assessment strategies into their curriculum plan so they can monitor student learning and make adjustments to their teaching strategies as required. 
  • As the curriculum plan is being developed, students are involved, as they reflect on their own learning and on the use of assessment strategies such as self and peer evaluation, setting and monitoring learning goals or developing portfolios of evidence to demonstrate learning.
  • Effective schools monitor and evaluate the impact of the curriculum plan on student engagement and learning outcomes and make adjustments aligned to mandated standards.

Essential Elements

A number of elements are essential to enable effective work within the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes. Eight Essential Elements form the foundation upon which improvement is built. The Essential Elements for Curriculum planning and assessment are:

Essential Element 1: Documented curriculum plan, assessment and shared pedagogical approaches.

Essential Element 6: Moderation of common student assessment tasks.

The Essential Elements are evident at the Evolving stage of each Continuum (below) and are further articulated in the Embedding and Excelling stages in some dimensions.

Continuum

The Continuum for Curriculum planning and assessment describes a range of proficiency levels (Emerging, Evolving, Embedding and Excelling) that assist principals and teachers to identify areas of practice that require attention in order to deliver improved student outcomes.

Component: The curriculum is developed and documented

Emerging
Teachers are familiar with the school’s School Strategic Plan (SSP) and Annual Implementation Plan (AIP) and identified areas for improvement. Student achievement data informs curriculum planning. Curriculum plans are usually designed by individual teachers based on the year level and curriculum area using the Victorian Curriculum and senior secondary curriculum. Teachers collaborate informally to develop and review teaching and assessment strategies and to share what they have learned. The school provides some opportunities for students to engage in the curriculum planning process.

Evolving
The school has identified FISO priority areas for focus and these are clearly identified in the SSP and AIP. School-wide achievement data is analysed. Student backgrounds and the needs of particular cohorts of students inform curriculum planning. Teachers plan together, in stages of learning and curriculum area teams, against the Victorian Curriculum and senior secondary curriculum. The school schedules opportunities for teachers to work in teams which develop consistency in teaching and learning strategies and moderate student assessment. The school actively seeks the views of students about curriculum content, delivery and assessment.

Embedding
The school has audited the current curriculum plan and identified areas that need to be reviewed to align to the SSP, AIP and identified FISO priority areas. A comprehensive analysis of student achievement data provides an accurate picture of student achievement across the whole school, within learning areas and the capabilities, within year levels and for student cohorts and individual students. This informs the development of a sequential curriculum plan. Curriculum planning reflects the achievements of students against the standards for curriculum areas, stages of learning and student backgrounds and needs. A professional learning community approach to whole-school curriculum planning and assessment is implemented to build the commitment, skills and capability of staff, reflective of school priorities. Planning units and assessment in teams, and in collaboration with students, is fundamental to the implementation of the school’s curriculum plan.

Excelling
The leadership team has led a whole-school audit of the current curriculum plan, analysis of student data and identified priority areas, aligned to the SSP and AIP. The plan is well established across each curriculum area and year level/cohort. A rigorous analysis of student achievement informs a sequential curriculum plan. Curriculum planning analyses and addresses the full range of learning needs of individual students providing coherence and continuity across all learning areas, and capabilities and stages of learning. Formal avenues exist for students to give voice to their interests and needs, and to regularly have input into curriculum planning, teaching and assessment. A Community of Practice approach across a group of schools brings expertise, innovation and professional challenge to the curriculum planning process.

Component: There is a holistic approach to curriculum, pedagogy and assessment

Emerging
The school’s curriculum plan identifies curriculum, pedagogy and assessment largely as separate inputs. Pedagogical practice is usually selected by the teacher based on their current knowledge, teaching experience and teaching style. They are aware that personalised learning can increase engagement and support learning. A school assessment plan is developed, predominantly driven by summative assessment and reporting expectations.

Evolving
The school’s curriculum plan begins to integrate learning areas and capabilities, pedagogy and assessment into a documented program of teaching and learning. Documented whole-school pedagogical practice is evidence based. There is an expectation that student needs and interests inform curriculum planning and teaching. A school assessment plan includes assessment of and for learning, while moderation of student work develops consistency of teacher judgement.

Embedding
The school’s curriculum plan integrates learning areas and capabilities, pedagogy and assessment into a sequential program of learning. Documented whole-school pedagogical practice is evidence based with high impact teaching strategies embedded in the teaching and learning program. These strategies integrate with a detailed, sequential curriculum plan to ensure personalised teaching and learning. Accurate assessment of and for learning is characterised by teacher collaboration around processes such as assessment mapping and moderation, enabling greater consistency of teacher judgements of student learning.

Excelling
The school’s curriculum plan fully integrates learning areas and capabilities, pedagogy and assessment into a coherent, sequential and developmental program of learning. A quality assurance process ensures that high impact, evidence-based pedagogical and assessment practices are enacted by all teachers. Teachers pinpoint and build from point of need for individuals, student cohorts and groups of students. There is a clear relationship between the curriculum standards, learning goals, learning activities and assessment strategies. This enables teachers to capture students’ knowledge and skills to quantify learning progress and to identify next steps.

Component: The curriculum is monitored and evaluated

Emerging
The school has a formal process for reviewing the curriculum plan. This is informed by student achievement data and is mainly conducted by the leadership team.

Evolving
Teacher teams use student achievement to effectively monitor and review the curriculum plan, teaching and learning and assessment strategies. Standardised unit and lesson planning templates are periodically refined.

Embedding
Programs are regularly monitored and evaluated by professional learning teams to ensure that the curriculum plan, teaching and learning and assessment strategies are consistent across all areas. Consistent processes are in place to monitor the effectiveness of programs in meeting students' learning goals and needs, based on a range of evidence.

Excelling
The school has established processes for ongoing evaluation and modification of its curriculum plan based on a cycle of review and comprehensive stakeholder feedback. A detailed analysis of outcomes data significantly informs this process.

Printable resource

Continuum as an A3 print out (pdf - 226.84kb)

Case studies

To see examples of how schools in Victoria are implementing the FISO dimension: Curriculum planning and assessment see: Curriculum planning and assessment case studies.

Evidence base

To view the Evidence Base for the FISO dimension: Curriculum planning and assessment see: Evidence- Curriculum planning and assessment .

FAQs

Why should my school engage with this improvement initiative?

Curriculum planning and assessment for learning have been shown to have a significant impact on student outcomes over time. Learners need information regarding how they are doing in order to improve. Parents and carers need information through timely and effective reporting to better support learners' needs. Teachers can increase their support of students by keeping track of students' progress and giving them feedback on how far they have come and what they can do to get better. Feedback and formative assessment, in combination provide teachers and students with the information they need to identify if they are on-track. Teachers can also teach students how to evaluate their own learning with metacognitive strategies that assist students to self-regulate their learning.  

Data from assessment tools provide valuable diagnostic information to inform program planning and resource allocation. This information can also be a powerful tool to help parents/carers understand their child's knowledge and skills, and the approaches taken by the school to enable learning and development.

How will my school know if we should focus on this improvement initiative?

Consider the following:

  • Do teachers know if a concept or key skill is not mastered?  When they do, do they have a response and/or strategies to deal with it?
  • Is there an agreed and documented curriculum, with identified key concepts and skills for learning? Is there also a defined scope and sequence?
  • To what extent does the school have a consistently implemented planning document that includes a detailed assessment schedule?
  • What monitoring do you use to identify the impact of your current programs?
  • To what extent are students achieving targeted growth?
  • Do teachers have clarity about the learning intention of each class/unit and is this conveyed clearly to all students?
  • What degree of clarity do learners and/or teachers have around the purpose or outcomes of their work?
  • To what extent does the school regularly report student progress to parents and carers?
  • To what extent does the school have a data management system in place for the effective management of assessment data?
What can my school focus on?
  • Data literacy, including the ability to understand, interpret and analyse a range of data, including NAPLAN data, other externally sourced data sets, including VCAA OnDemand assessment tools, and qualitative data.
  • Comparing and triangulating available data to create a rich understanding of the learning landscape and student outcomes.
  • Planning for consistency and moderating student assessment.
  • Presenting  available data to various stakeholders.
  • Creating common assessment tools to enable teacher moderation.
  • Developing/modifying student learning plans based on assessment results.
  • Differentiating lesson plans to accommodate the range of needs and abilities.
  • Eliciting constructive feedback from students to ascertain their level of understanding.
Where to next?

If your school chooses to focus on this Improvement Initiative, the specific tasks below may assist with the development of actions that will support effective curriculum planning and assessment protocols.

  • Use the Victorian Curriculum achievement standards to design programs and monitor student progression
  • Develop expertise in diagnosis and setting goals
  • Use student assessment data and other feedback - including feedback from students, parents/carers, other teachers and school leaders - to evaluate student progress and the impact of their teaching
  • Regularly monitor and adjust learning programs based on the analysis of performance data and other information sources
  • Moderate assessments of students' learning to ensure they are based on consistent professional judgments and evaluate the impact on student learning
  • Develop expertise in facilitating peer evaluation and self-evaluation among students
  • Use evidence-based professional learning programs that support high performance and increase data literacy and understanding of how to measure the impact of teaching programs and effective professional learning programs
  • Ensure time and funding is available for regular teacher collaboration
  • Use a peer observation model to identify the professional learning needs of individuals.

More information

For more information, see: Excellence in teaching and learning priority