Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Preaching to the converted - re-affirmation from NZQA

I have attended a NZQA best practice workshop today with a generic focus on how we can collect evidence that supports 'natural evidence' of student learning as well as supporting cross-curricular/integrated learning that means students gain the maximum number of credits for their learning, where it authentically matches: allowing student learning to go deeper by 'double-dipping' rather than over-assessing where students are being assessed multiple times for very similar learning content/contexts.

It has been a very affirming experience that HPSS is on the right track - a track that is strongly supported by NZQA. It has also reminded me of the blockades that teachers themselves, departments and schools are maintaining as resistance to change, and instead of asking "how might we?" (thanks @maurieabraham ), there are still strong arguments that shut down opportunity for student-centred assessment by sticking with low-trust models of assessment that let authenticity worries drive the assessment design overall.

Some of the key questions I have pondered today:

  • How do we assess for flexibility, innovation and student focus, while still retaining rigour and manageability? 
  • How to provide multiple opportunities to different students for the same AS, while still being manageable from a teaching point of view? How can we support students to choose their own mode of assessment?
  • How to find rigorous assessment opportunities that authentically support more than one learning area?
Some of the ideas that have been fed back from what students and NZQA value:
  • more time = higher engagement
  • choice of practical work, not just lots of writing
  • transparent guidelines
  • unpacking exemplars is a vital component of teaching
  • feedback/feedforward during assessment phase - gives a chance for students to improve and show their best work
  • the relationship between student and teacher is so important, and this combined with a portfolio approach can help to address authenticity issues
  • the context and content need to be meaningful - use "double dipping" where possible to allow student learning to go deeper, not just collecting credits
  • Not everything will mash-up in an authentic way - there needs to be rigour and a non-forced match between achievement standards.
Ideas about naturally-occurring evidence, and how it relates to HPSS:
  • this type of evidence is a perfect mash-up for project learning… I can already see how this is going to work to allow credits to "fall out of" the learning that is already taking place
  • there still needs to be rigour via rubric and captured evidence that occurs during project/module and not one assessment event at the end.
  • evidence cannot be retrospective - it must be purposeful and captured at the time of the event, we need to be able to authenticate the learning that took place at the time of the event.
  • this aspect of evidence collection is really important in terms of front end of curriculum
  • this allows us to have the ability to assess process of learning, not just the end product - this can help towards numeracy and literacy.
  • the formality of evidence still needs to be there - robust documentation - we must be able to see what students have done to be able to make professional judgements on performance/grade
  • this means that achievement standards can “fall out of” work done during projects.
So overall, a really positive view that HPSS is on the right track and that we can definitely find ways to let the learning drive the assessment as we get into years 11 and beyond, and not the other way around.