Making an individual difference: Teachers tackling assessment
These days, it’s very easy to see the big problems in education —the front pages of the papers make that obvious. Behaviour standards, funding strain, and integrating technology are all considerations for the modern classroom. As educators, we know that we input so much to make the best for our pupils. As individuals, we are left wondering, “Is there really anything I can do? I’m just one person—can I make a real difference?”
Take, for instance, the question of assessment (a favourite of ours, here at Evidence Based Education); it’s clear that more should be done to support educators to assess better. The Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training (2015) specifically pointed to assessment as an area for improvement. It argues that training on assessment should cover everything from the theories underlying good assessment, to how to use a range of assessment approaches, to using pupil data.
The Commission on Assessment Without Levels not only agreed with the Carter Review, but further believes that teachers’ understanding of what makes good assessment should extend beyond initial teacher education. Not just NQTs, but “every teacher should have the opportunity to become skilled and confident at assessing pupils’ learning.” Furthermore, assessment policy (particularly in the new post-levels systems) requires buy-in from all school staff, not just senior and middle leaders.
On top of these findings, Ofsted has announced a new inspection framework for English schools. From September 2019, inspectors will focus less on tracking data in favour of the context and substance of education provided. Sound assessment practices, based in evidence-informed theory and grounded in the curriculum, are being recognised as key. Teachers’ individual assessment practices will no doubt prove to be an important aspect of this.
It is for these reasons that we developed the Assessment Lead Programme—an online, research-based course to develop an approach to improving assessment practice, policy, and framework. It’s aimed at current school leaders that are interested in implementing school-wide changes.
But this leaves the remaining members of staff, those in the classroom, where the most difference can be made.
This is exactly why we have developed a new course of professional learning – Assessment Essentials. We wanted something that would be accessible as possible for educators at all levels—those in initial teacher training, recently qualified teachers, and experienced educators. We wanted something that was flexible enough to fit teachers’ busy schedules, while also being sustained enough to encourage long-term learning. Above all, we wanted something that was aligned with our mission of providing all teachers with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to better use assessments.
In short, we wanted to empower teachers to make a real difference in the teaching and learning in their own classrooms.
Assessment Essentials is informed by the best available evidence on teacher professional learning. It’s a ten-week online course that is structured around a sequence of learning structured into bitesize lessons. It explores ideas such as connecting curriculum to teaching and assessment, effective and efficient assessment, fairness in assessment, and many others. An essential consideration is that participating will not burden teachers’ valuable time; instead, Assessment Essentials encourages practice to alleviate strains on teachers’ workloads. Fans of assessment research will be pleased to see that Dylan Wiliam, John Hattie,Daisy Christodoulou, and EBE’s own Stuart Kime appear frequently throughout the programme. Most importantly, it provides the support for teachers, regardless of their experience, to translate theory into practice.
Education researchers, school leaders, and classroom teachers are all partners in improving pupil outcomes. Assessment Essentials is the latest programme from Evidence Based Education that serves as a resource to all educators to do just that in the realm of assessment. We are pleased to offer something so that individual classroom teachers can indeed make a real difference!