Assess the capabilities and skills of your students

​School-developed indicators of skill development.

Determining levels of proficiency in skills or capabilities generally involves observing students in action and noticing or evaluating what they can do.

Reliable assessment of skills and capabilities requires opportunities for application in different contexts.

You can get your students to contribute to this data through:

  • self-reflection on the level of proficiency they believe they have demonstrated
  • evidence portfolios where they use technology to capture their performances
  • peer evaluations of the strength of evidence related to the agreed indicators of a skill or capability.

Capabilities indicators (collaboration)

How this tool was developed

Developed by teachers and students in Year 5 at Westgarth Primary School, this self-assessment tool addresses the personal and social capability of the Victorian Curriculum. Collaboration was identified as a learning priority after teachers observed that many students struggled (sometimes significantly) during a previous unit of work.

A subsequent unit incorporated opportunities to learn more about effective collaboration and teamwork, with a culminating assessment task (in the form of a design brief) involving a team challenge.

At the unit design stage, teachers created plain language statements from the curriculum content descriptors and standards and translated these into a set of ‘I can …’ statements.
These were further refined with students to help build their understanding of each statement and what it would mean for them to personally develop stronger capability.

How it might be used in practice

This tool was offered to students as a means of identifying their existing strengths as well as the capabilities they would like to further strengthen. This enabled them to identify their own learning priorities and goals through a conversation with their teacher.

Teachers and students found that it was more helpful to focus on a small number of relevant indicators at a time, suitable to both the team task and an individual's developmental readiness. This meant that different students could focus on learning goals that were a stretch and challenge for them (personalising their learning).

Teachers used a similar version of the tool – changing 'I can ...' statements into 'This student has demonstrated they can...' statements – for monitoring the whole class. This let them record what individual students were able to do as they worked with peers on collaborative tasks.

Teachers sharpened their assessments through evidence gathered via individual reflections and roundtable discussions.

This tool can be adapted to create similar capabilities-focused scaffolds in other areas and for other levels in the Victorian Curriculum.

The tool

Stage1 do example collaboration (pdf - 36.32kb)

An alternative example

Derrimut Primary School developed a tool that also relates to assessing the capability of collaboration.

The school used international research from the New Pedagogies for deep learning global project to develop a rubric that was then used to work out the know–do–be learning implications for teachers and students.

Stage1 do capability collaboration Derrimut (pdf - 91.43kb)

Successful teamwork indicators

How this tool was developed

This tool draws on an extended evidence base to identify the specific capabilities necessary for teamwork. The indicators are in the form of ‘we’ statements designed to prompt:

  • collaborative reflection
  • sharing of different points of view
  • negotiation of a consensus view.

It supported Year 5 teachers and students at Westgarth Primary School to design a team challenge that would create an authentic context and motivation for the development of team-focused capabilities. They used this monitoring tool to:

  • prompt reflection
  • set goals for improvement
  • agree on evidence of increasing proficiency.

The educational evidence base

The indicators in this tool were informed by an extensive literature review titled successful teamwork: a case study and published by the higher education research and development society of Australasia (HERDSA).

How it might be used in practice

As well as students self-assessing at different points in the learning process, teachers can:

  • observe groups in action
  • invite additional individual reflections on the group’s consensus position
  • participate in roundtable discussions with students to strengthen their understanding of teamwork related capabilities.

Taken together, these activities (self-assessment, observation, reflection, discussion) bolster the reliability and accuracy of the evidence collected.

The tool

Capability teamwork

Disciplinary skill indicators (chronology)

The third example is drawn directly from the History learning area of the Victorian Curriculum. It provides an aligned set of teacher and student indicators necessary for a student to create and share a personally meaningful chronology that reflects their family history.

Achievement standards and content descriptors for levels 1 and 2 were used to inform development of the indicators. Application of the appropriate skills and capabilities show an understanding of the concepts.

How it might be used in practice

This tool presents a set of sequenced indicators that provide the basis for designing a meaningful culminating assessment. Teachers can also use the indicators to:

  • plan a learning sequence
  • uncover at the beginning of the unit what students already know how to do
  • see where students might need further support, such as via teacher observation as students undertake a smaller, initial task, or via student self-assessment.

This example sheds light on the use of skills to demonstrate understanding, illustrating the interconnectedness of know–do–be.

The tool

History chronology

Another example

A further example that also relates to assessing disciplinary skills in History is an assessment task targeting the concept 'Historical sources as evidence'. The task includes a simple rubric targeting Levels 7/8.

Representing ancient Egyptians