Defining the goals for an assessment policy
An aside. The astute reader will see a delicious irony here. I am going to suggest a new assessment structure by first laying down the goals – the criteria of success! This is exactly want I want assessment to avoid being too dependent on! So, backwards by design has its uses, it is just not the whole picture.
What we want is an assessment that is:
Broad in the sense that different types of assessment can fit into it.
Broad in the sense that lots of different types of activity can be included.
Authentic, at least in some parts, so that the way in which a student assesses his or her performance has clear analogies to the way he or she will be expected to do that in the rest of his or her life.
The assessment is close to the work, in that the assessment should not be viewed without the work if possible. Evidence is more important that assessment.
Students can define their own success, and the criteria for that success. Not necessarily in all areas, but in many. They can change the criteria as the work progresses, and in some cases work without them altogether and create them at the end.
Students can select the evidence that demonstrates their learning, their progress and their achievement. The can create the picture of themselves that the evidence will draw.
So, this is our current project at Island School, and we think it is achievable. What might it look like?
A student will be able to upload, very simply, any piece of work or reference to activity. This can be in any media format: an essay, a Maths investigation, a piece of music, a video of their football, a recording of a debate, a description of their service project. Anything at all they are involved in. Some of these will be things the teachers decide and some will be things the students choose to upload. There will be no limit to the latter.
They will be able to add a reflection, as text, as video, as audio or image. They can invite others to reflect, such as students in a collaborative project, members of a team, an audience, a coach or a parent.
Teachers will be able to add their own comments when they decide, as in the essay, or when invited. They will be able to set work through the system, linked to the VLE, that requires an uploaded response.
Grades, when appropriate, can also be added, but after the reflection please. All sorts of progressive data can be analysed from the data.
Work can easily be tagged as refereeing to a particular one of our skills framework, as being noteworthy to a reference writer or relevant to a transcript.
Students will be able to draw on all this mass of material to pull together the picture of themselves that constitutes their front page.
It is a bold and exciting project and probably the first time I have been excited by assessment for a very long time. Watch this space for progress.