Making the Difference Differentiation in International Schools William & Ochan Powell
Assessment of Learning The traditional purpose of assessment in schools was to sort and rank students. Another traditional purpose was to dole out punishments and rewards. (Honor Roll, detentions) 30 years ago, criterion referenced assessment began to be used in some educational systems: Students achievement is compared against pre-determined achievement criteria, rather than against other students (norm-referenced)
Assessment for Learning Our aim as teachers is to maximize the learning of all students. Two purposes for assessment in the differentiated classroom: To analyze student progress and to determine the status of learning; and To serve as an essential component of the learning process in order to promote and enhance further learning.
Ten principles of Assessment for Learning Principal #1: AFL is part of effective instructional planning Principal #2: AFL focuses on how students learn (not just ‘what’ they learn) Principal #3: AFL is central to classroom practice Principal #4: AFL is a key professional skill Principal #5: AFL is sensitive and constructive Principal #6: AFL fosters motivation
Ten principles of Assessment for Learning Principal #7: AFL promotes understanding of goals and criteria Students need to understand and articulate what they are trying to achieve, and, equally importantly, they need to want to achieve it. Student commitment to learning goals is enhanced when learners are provided with specific examples of how criteria can be met and when learners are engaged in peer and self-assessment. Principal #8: AFL helps learners know how to improve The primary purpose of assessment is to support the learner in improving his or her performance. Learners must be provided with opportunities to improve their work. The use of constructive feedback is one of the most important and powerful life skills that we can help students to develop.
Ten principles of Assessment for Learning Principal #9: AFL develops the capacity for self-assessment Some teachers equate self-assessment with putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse. Other teachers treat self-assessment as a nice, but optional add-on, to be included if time permits. The view of ‘assessment for learning’ is RADICALLY different. Self-assessment supports the learner in becoming reflective and self-managing. The only significant enduring purpose behind assessment is to help students to internalize healthy, accurate and reasonably challenging self-assessment. Reflective and self-managing students acquire vital skills and habits of mind that are needed for the rest of their lives. Principal #10: AFL recognizes all educational achievement Many students who are failing courses are doing so because they have learned from their teachers that they are no good at a subject. These students are not learning disabled, they are teacher disabled.
Three questions for students.. In an outstanding article entitled “Helping Students to Understand Assessment”, Jan Chappuis (2005) writes that students need to be able to answer three basic questions about their learning: Where am I going? (what specifically is the learning target?) Where am I now? (what can and can’t I do?) How can I close the gap?
Seven strategies for engaging students in the learning process Seven Strategies for Engaging Students in the Learning Process: Strategy One: Provide a clear and understandable vision of the learning outcome. Provide learning coherence by keeping students focused on the large learning objectives and connected to a vision of quality as the learning takes place, continually defining and redefining for students the learning expectations. Strategy Two: Use anonymous examples of strong and weak student work. Ask students to evaluate the work samples and to discuss the criteria they used. Have them use the language of the rubric or scoring guide. Such an activity will assist students in understanding what high quality work looks like and will support them in self-assessment. Strategy Three: Offer regular descriptive feedback. Providing students with regular descriptive feedback enhances their learning. We would, however, make a distinction between evaluative feedback, which consists of marks or letter grades. Such evaluative feedback often signals to students that the learning associated with a piece of work is finished. Descriptive feedback gives them insight about current strengths (success) and how to do better next time (corrective action). We also know that quality in feedback is vastly more important than quantity. Strategy Four: Teach students to self-assess and set goals. Insist that students engage in activities that teach the skills of self-assessment, help them to regularly collect evidence of their own progress. Strategy Five: Design lessons that focus on one aspect of quality at a time. This strategy breaks learning into manageable pieces for students. Many of us have received a piece of work back from a teacher with so much red ink on it that it was overwhelming. Focusing on one aspect of quality at a time fosters learning. Strategy Six: Teach students focused revision. Insist that students revise their work. Teach them how to use feedback in the revision process. Focus on a single aspect of quality. Don’t allow them to bite off more than they can chew. Providing students with an anonymous poor quality piece of work is a very useful activity. Strategy Seven: Engage students in self-reflection and let them document and share their learning. Use daily strategies in the classroom that require students to articulate specifically what they are learning and the progress they are making. Use a variety of strategies to have students communicate their own understanding of what they have learned and develop goals to close the gap between where they are now relative to the desired learning outcome and where they need to be in order to meet learning standards. Adapted from the work of: Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis and Chappuis, 2004 Willam Powell and OchanKusuma-Powell. Making the Difference: Differentiation in International Schools. Kuala Lumpur: self-published, 2007
MS Principal “Assessment is a process that we complete in partnership WITH the student, not some complicated thing that we do TO the student” Mr Cooper, MS Principal, during staff training prior to the school year 09-10
Making the Difference: Differentiation in International Schools Willam Powell and OchanKusuma-Powell Published: 2007