Introduction

This report builds on the findings of the main report The Collection and Use of Assessment Information in Schools, published by ERO in March 2007.

The aim of this report is to help schools review their assessment practice and how they use assessment information to provide good learning opportunities for their students. This report gives examples of good practice in primary schools and also includes three detailed case studies.

Overview of good practice in the collection and use of assessment information

‘Assessment in education is the process of gathering, interpreting, recording and using information about students’ responses to an educational task.’ 1 The assessment of student achievement (ie examining and using information about what students know and can do) is the basis of effective teaching and learning. Unless teachers are knowledgeable about their students’ achievements and interests, they cannot be confident that their teaching is supporting students to achieve to their potential. ‘Overall the purpose of assessment is to improve standards, not merely to measure them.’ 2

Each school in this study developed its processes for the collection and use of assessment information in ways that responded well to students’ needs and interests. The schools displayed common characteristics that contributed to the high quality of the collection and use of assessment information.

Schools demonstrating good practice:

  • made certain that teachers had shared understanding about the purpose of assessment;
  • made certain that school managers, teachers and students were aware of the rationale for the decisions being made about assessment;
  • gave teachers the opportunity for professional development in assessment;
  • expected teachers to be knowledgeable about their students’ achievements and interests;
  • built strong relationships with students’ families and whānau, that contributed to their children’s learning;
  • encouraged teachers to use data effectively to make improvements to their teaching;
  • expected assessment information to be drawn from a wide range of sources such as day-to-day interaction with students, analysis of students’ work and from more formally designed and administered assessment tasks;
  • made sure teachers were able to analyse both numeric and narrative assessment information and interpret the results so these were understood by all potential users of the information;
  • encouraged teachers to use formative assessment strategies that ensured the purpose of activities was understood, and students received effective and useful feedback;
  • identified groups of students who needed extra assistance and what specific assistance was needed, monitored the students’ progress and gathered comprehensive data on their achievements school-wide;
  • identified any trends and patterns in students’ achievements and compared the achievements of groups of students in the school; and
  • established clear expectations for achievement, and for the methods of collating and reporting assessment data, so progress towards agreed achievement targets could be measured.

Report Findings: The Collection and Use of Assessment Information in Schools

The major evaluation of the quality of the collection and use of assessment information in 314 schools occurred during Terms 1 and 2, 2006. ERO evaluated the quality of assessment information in 253 full primary, contributing and intermediate schools, and the findings were reported in The Collection and Use of Assessment Information in Schools, published by ERO in March 2007. In these schools:

  • 58 percent of schools had developed and implemented an effective, integrated school-wide approach to assessment processes and information;
  • over 80 percent of primary schools had developed effective assessment processes and tools for literacy and numeracy;
  • the achievement information in 57 percent of schools demonstrated students’ achievement and progress;
  • the interaction of assessment with teaching and learning was effective in 54 percent of schools;
  • in 42 percent of schools, students used information about their achievement for further learning;
  • 43 percent of schools were establishing and using school-wide information to improve student achievement; and
  • 51 percent were effective in reporting information about students’ achievements to the community.

ERO found that schools’ effectiveness in the collection and use of assessment varied considerably, with about half the schools demonstrating effective practice across the whole curriculum. Without worthwhile information teachers cannot be certain their students have learned what they set out to teach, or that the teaching is relevant to the students’ learning needs and interests. Where good use is made of assessment, teachers monitor their own teaching and are informed about how well students are learning.