This is almost my final post about what is truly new and different in the Enhanced PYP. I still want to do a post about the Exhibition, and beyond that will start to explore the areas of the Enhancements that are more of a deeper focus or where there is more guidance. This post is going to deal with assessment and there are quite a few important differences in the Enhanced PYP – so this could be quite a long post.
For me I think one of the most important differences is the shift away from the summative assessment, which used to be required at the end of each unit of inquiry. So important was this summative, that it was generally discussed by teachers in very the first collaborative planning meeting, as it was in the first box of the planner. Traditionally the teacher was the assessor. Now assessment is built in throughout the planner, it involves evidencing the learning by the students themselves as well as peers and teachers, and it is ongoing, made up for formative and summative. There is no longer any requirement to have a summative assessment at the end of every unit, as the process of gathering, analysing, reflecting and acting on evidence of learning is what is used to inform next steps in teaching, a process now known as feed forward. Because of this, both students and teachers need to develop their assessment capability, to consider the learning goals and success criteria and to focus on assessing both the learning process as well as the learning outcomes.
The fundamental purpose of all assessment is to gather and analyse information to inform teaching and learning through an understanding of where the student is at any given point in time. Throughout the learning process, it identifies what students know, understand and can do. This backward and forward-looking approach uses feedback to help students to know what they need to learn next.
The whole learning community should be involved in assessment: students become more effective learners when they are actively engaged in assessment and when they can reflect on their progress, set their own goals, and act on constructive feedback. Teachers become more effective when they reflect on their practice and adjust their teaching based on the evidence of learning and when they support students to become assessment capable. Parents also become more supporting partners when they understand the learning goals. Schools as a whole develop as learning communities when they use the assessment data to evaluate both the depth of the curriculum and the effectiveness of teaching.
In PYP: From Principles into Practice there are a list of the characteristics of effective assessment:
- Authentic – connected to the real world
- Clear and specific learning goals and success criteria
- Varied – using a wide range of tools and strategies
- Developmental – focused on an individual student’s progress and not on their performance in relation to others
- Collaborative – involving both teachers and students
- Interactive – with ongoing dialogues about learning
- Feedback to feedforward – where feedback is used to inform future learning.
- Monitoring learning – happens daily in every lesson. It involves observation, questioning and reflection with a view to checking the progress of learning against students’ personal learning goals and success criteria.
- Documenting learning – this is the evidence of learning and can be physical or digital, including checklists, rubrics, learning journals, learning stories and portfolios. This documentation is hared with others to make learning visible and apparent.
- Measuring learning – captures what a student has learned at a particular point in time. It’s important to note that not all learning can be or needs to be measured.
- Reporting on learning – gives clear information about learning to students and parents.