Leading Assessment – Intensives and resources

Note: Hi there, if you landed here, please know that this is just my note-book. This is not meant as a blog post. The notes are here to remind myself of what I did during the sessions at Melb Uni. 

Session 1&2, 20/08/21: Intensive Day 3. Leading Assessment

Interrogating the curriculum from a developmental perspective, by Dr Jason Pietzner

For discussion in groups:

  1. What is your issue?
  2. Why is this important?
  3. What evidence have you used?
  4. What is the quality of that evidence?
  5. Ideas on how assessment might address the issue

To what extent does the Victorian Curriculum and/or the NESA Syllabus and related reporting advice support a developmental approach to assessment?

  • Progressions
  • Curriculum structure
  • Assessment and reporting advice
  1. What are the necessary elements of a developmental approach to teaching and learning?
    • Curriculum
    • Assessment
    • (Pedagogy)

The developmental approach

The developmental approach, a poem:

…a process
of gathering of evidence (what learners say, do, make or write)
to support a judgment
about the position of a learner on a scale of competence
from less expert to more expert
showing what they know and can do, and what they need to learn next
made with a sufficient degree of confidence
to support action for learning and teaching
and recognise the level of learner attainment
  • Requires empirical learning progressions based on evidence of student ability
  • ‘[The developmental approach] rests on criterion-referenced frameworks that are used to develop profiles of student development. These frameworks describe the increasing stages of competence defined by tasks or behaviours that are increasingly sophisticated. They are achievement-based rather than curriculum-based. They are not standards – they emphasise what a student is ready to learn and not what an external body argues they should be learning.’ (Griffin 2018:9)
  • The typical order of skills – otherwise known as a criterion-referenced framework or construct [or learning progression] – provides a framework against which teachers can interpret evidence of student learning, identify student zones of proximal development (ZPDs) and plan further teaching. (Griffin, 2018, 163)
  • The developmental approach is supported in Gonski 2.0:
    ‘Introducing learning progressions is a critical reform that will see key parts of the curriculum presented as levels of increasing proficiency through which students progress in their school years, independent of year level or age. This will enable teachers to focus on the learning readiness and individual progress of students with limited or no reference to their age or year-level expectations.’ p31
  • The developmental approach is supported in the NSW Curriculum review. (https://nswcurriculumreform.nesa.nsw.edu.au/pdfs/phase-3/resources/chapters/Summary_of_NSW_Curriculum_Review_recommendations.pdf)
    What does the Review propose?
    A new curriculum: Prioritise core knowledge, understanding and skills in a new set of syllabuses, and give teachers time to focus on depth of learning. Key features include:

    • Learn with understanding: develop students’ understandings of core concepts, principles and methods in each subject, focusing on depth of learning rather than breadth.
    • Build skills in applying knowledge: develop skills in applying knowledge (for example, critical and creative thinking) and provide opportunities for students to demonstrate these skills.
    • Make excellent and ongoing progress: ensure that students progress to the next syllabus once they have mastered the prior syllabus, that students who need more time have it and students who are ready to advance can do so.ted in the NSW curriculum review.
  1. What implications are there for assessment given that Gonksi 2.0 and the NSW Curriculum Review have recommended reforms based on developmental learning and teaching principles?

Different types of progressions

Progressions – ACARA Literacy and Numeracy

  • A learning progression can be described as a common pathway of conceptual development or a sequence of learning or acquiring a new skill
  • Trialed in Australian schools
  • Validated against NAPLAN data
  • Improved based on trials and validation

Progressions – Atomised vs Synthesised

Both progression styles have their uses. Dot point that describe progressions in bands of skills

This is a synthesised progression, the dot points have been collated at a particular level of confidence, synthesised a learner characteristic, emergent property. They give teachers and students a better indication of what their learning should look like when it is enacted.

Progressions – Achievement standards?

Jason P: You might argue that the achievement found in the Vic Curriculum are a type of progression as well. They have made some effort at synthesising content descriptions, but imperfectly. Another problem is that sometimes they talk about content, sometimes skills, sometimes there is some description of how these skills are applied. They have made an attempt at synthesising the content descriptions, they are inconsistent in what they are trying to achieve.

Progressions – NESA Syllabus links (NSW)

See link: https://syllabus.nesa.nsw.edu.au/assets/englishk10/downloads/englishk10_s4.pdf

  • Primarily, it describes content descriptions, rather than descriptions of competency in literacy.
  • The layout of the syllabus does not lend itself easily to thinking developmentally.
  • Learning outcomes are attached to years of schooling.

The syllabus is mapped to atomised elements of the ACARA literacy progression but a synthesised  progression of learning is not available.

  1. How do learning progressions presented as synthesised levels of achievement enable high quality assessment?

 How have curricula been developed, and how do they support good quality assessment practice?

 Curriculum – Development of ACARA Curriculum: Understand how it was trialled etc, it is just an infographic. http://docs.acara.edu.au/resources/ACARA_infographic.pdf

Jason P: While both generally incorporate elements of the Australian curriculum, they do not slavishly follow it.

4. To what extent is the Australian Curriculum a valid description of student learning pathways and what does this mean for assessment?

  •  Jason P. How was ACARA developed? In part it was developed using trialling in Australian schools, but not based on empirical learning progressions as was recommended in Gonski. Also, consider the relationship between the VIC, NSW and Aust Curriculum.
  • TWE is the Oz Curric a valid description of learning path ways, and what does this mean for assessment. You need to interrogate the idea of validity, and how well those curricula describe student learning pathways.

ACARA/NESA curriculum – standards referenced

Achievement standards have some elements of a progression and provide teachers with a ‘picture’ of development. Standards are tied to years of schooling.

ACARA/NESA curriculum – standards referenced

NESA syllabuses include agreed Australian Curriculum content and content that clarifies the scope, breadth and depth of learning. The Australian Curriculum achievement standards underpin the syllabus outcomes and the Stage statements for Early Stage 1 to Stage 5. https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/k-10/learning-areas/english-year-10/english-k-10/introduction

NSW Department of Education reporting advice

Report format uses deficit language and gradings against standards.  The Commonwealth has removed the current regulatory requirement that student reporting include an assessment against a 5-point scale (A to E) for each subject. The information contained in the reports must communicate details on a child’s progress and learning achievements. The changes apply to Semester 1 2020 only. ​Student reports for Semester 2 will need to be delivered using the A to E grading. https://policies.education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/associated-documents/interim-policy-standards-during-covid-19.pdf

Victorian curriculum – criterion referenced

The Victorian Curriculum F–10 is structured as a continuum across levels of learning achievement not years of schooling. This enables the development of targeted learning programs for all students, where the curriculum is used to plan in relation to the actual learning level of each student rather than their assumed level of learning based on age.


VCAA Reporting Guidelines

Jason P: They are reporting guidelines, rather than policies, schools can interpret them. They are not always consistent. Not everything matches.  https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/viccurric/RevisedF-10CurriculumPlanningReportingGuidelines.pdf

  • Achievement and progress must be included
  • How can a (normative) ‘age-related five point scale’ be developed by schools?
  • Why does the five-point scale apply to some subjects and not others?


  1. How well do the NSW and/or Victorian reporting guidelines align with developmental assessment principles?

Question for posted response: To what extent does the Victorian Curriculum and/or the NESA Syllabus and related reporting advice support a developmental approach to assessment? Post response here: https://canvas.lms.unimelb.edu.au/courses/107093/discussion_topics/554148


  • Learning progressions/criterion referenced frameworks/hypothesised curriculum frameworks
  • Synthesised descriptions
  • Achievement based
  • Behaviours
  • Structure
  • Explicit/implied ‘standards’?
  • No reference to age/year-level expectations
  • Supports action for teaching and learning
  • Reporting advice (five-point scale?)
  • Anything else???

Data Literate Teachers: What does it mean for teachers to be data literate: Laying out the skills, knowledge, and dispositions

By Ellen B. Mandinach,  Edith S. Gummer 2016. See article here.

  • Education has struggled to define what it means to be a data literate educator
  • Data-literate educators continuously, effectively, and ethically access, interpret, act on, and communicate multiple types of data from state, local, classroom, and other sources to improve outcomes for students in a manner appropriate to educators’ professional roles and responsibilities.
  • Data literacy for teaching is the ability to transform information into actionable instructional knowledge and practices by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting all types of data (assessment, school climate, behavioral, snapshot, longitudinal, moment to moment, etc.) to help determine instructional steps. It combines an understanding of data with standards, disciplinary knowledge and practices, curricular knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and an understanding of how children learn.
  1. First, there is no question that educators must be armed with data.
  2. Second, there is a problematic confla-tion between assessment literacy and data literacy.
  3. Third and most relevant to teacher preparation around use data, our findings have indicated that simply relying on professional development to enhance teachers’ data literacy is inadequate. …that is, people think that data are only about as-sessments, and this is far from the case.
  • The data skills must be triangulated with such knowledge. However, professional development providers often lack in-depth knowledge of content and pedagogy to enable such triangulation. In fact, some profes-sional development providers admit that their models do not extend to the transformation of information into instructional de-cisions (Mandinach & Gummer, 2012, 2013b, 2016). Furthermore, introducing data use to educators after they are already in practice may be too late. Many believe that early introductions are preferred (Mandinach & Gummer, 2012). Thus, it is our belief based on our prior work, that teacher preparation programs must begin to introduce data use to teacher candidates, with professional devel-opment further enhancing the skills. Teacher preparation programs are uniquely situated to provide the triangulation of data skills with the other essential forms of knowledge that Shulman (1986, 1987) has described.
  • this research indicated that much needs to be done in terms of building educators’ capacity to use data in their practice.
  • In summary, policymakers are clearly emphasizing the importance of data use. They are putting into place some of the re-quirements necessary for the effective use of data. The key will be to translate the policy recommendations into actual practice, effecting change where needed to make data use a more accepted and fully integrated practice at all levels of the educational system.
  • .Though having good professional development is important, there also is a pressing need for the infrastructure to support the infusion of data use into schools and districts.

Conceptual framework for data literacy for teachers

We have now included seven key knowledge areas that integrate with data use in the inquiry process: content knowledge; general pedagogical knowledge; curriculum knowledge; pedagogical con-tent knowledge; knowledge of learners and their characteristics; knowledge of educational contexts; and knowledge of educational ends, purposes and values. The data use for teaching domain is then comprised of five components under which we have associated specific knowledge and skills. The domains include: identify problems and frame questions, use data, transform data into information, transform in-formation into a decision, and evaluate outcomes.

However, it is essential to be mindful of the iterative nature of the process. Most decision-making processes are not linear or even finite. They require reflection and recasting of investigation, whether additional data need to be collected, other iterations through the cycle made, further analyses made, new instructional steps identified, or other skills invoked.

This is a good read too: https://dataqualitycampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DQC-Data-Literacy-Brief.pdf