Why We Need A Continuous Assessment Culture

Traditional Assessment Culture versus Continuous Assessment Culture

609When you see teachers ranting on social media that they hate assessment as much as the parents but their pay cheques depend on it and their school depends on the data for funding it’s obvious there is a problem with assessment. It must be quite disheartening when your kids are fully immersed and engaged in learning only to have to stop what you are doing to start preparing for upcoming assessments such as NAPLAN. I teach project management and know the anxieties that are created by the test at the end of the course and often wish we could talk more about live examples of implementing project management in an organisation rather than tips on how to get through the exam.

Most schools already have an assessment culture. For most though, this culture is one that is based on the principle of accountability and measuring school performance. These negative principles often have the opposite effect of their intent of improving student learning outcomes (see Dr Richard Elmore’s article on Assessment Culture). A continuous assessment culture, on the other hand, underpins a “true learning culture” and supports teachers using assessment not from a negative, accountability perspective, but to drive student engagement and learning.

There are many tools and technologies out there now that make continuous assessment easier trying to implement continuous assessment into a school which is not truly ready to weave assessment into every aspect of their day-to-day life is is like the person trying to stop smoking who has tried everything to quit, but still goes for the next “guaranteed” solution. What are the chances of this working? We need to have a deep understanding of what that culture looks like – a vision and a blueprint (or strategy) consisting of plans, processes, systems and procedures. The only way to tackle the development of such a culture is to start by identifying and then focussing on the benefits.

Benefits of a Continuous Assessment Culture
There are very few short term benefits of a continuous assessment culture because it takes a long time to embed such a culture into a school. Across the longer term the benefits are numerous.

      Student Benefits       Teacher Benefits
  • self-awareness – aware of what they know and don’t know
  • self-efficacy – start to understand how they learn and believe in their ability to apply this to more difficult situations
  • self-management – learning becomes more self-directed
  • self-confident – willing to ask for help and know the right questions to ask.  
  • underlying sense of feeling supported by colleagues, students, parents and the school in your assessment practices.  
  • having a greater awareness of the whole child through the constant feedback cycle
  • better information to enable adjustments to teaching strategies

Next blog will focus more specifically on key considerations when developing or maintaining a continuous assessment culture.

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