Our teachers use a variety of strategies to assess student learning. These include observing work in class and looking closely at tasks throughout the year.
Twice a year, teachers formally assess a student’s achievement based on the outcomes described in the syllabus of each subject. A written report using the common grade scale is sent home in the first half of the year, usually near the end of Term 2, and again in Term 4. This gives a clear picture of your child’s learning.
We provide detailed information to students about what we expect from them throughout the year and how their work will be assessed. Students have a number of formal assessments throughout their schooling.
Best Start – a mandatory, one-to-one assessment that identifies a student’s literacy and numeracy skills at the beginning of Kindergarten.
National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) – reading, writing, language conventions (spelling, punctuation and grammar) and numeracy tests for students in Years 3 and 5. The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) holds the tests in May each year. Results and student reports are released in August.
Wollongong West Public School started its Visible Learning journey in 2017, and initial planning involved analysing the positive teaching strategies from the 138 influences on student achievement from Professor John Hattie's research. Formative assessment, a high impact strategy proven to improve student learning outcomes, was chosen as a focus for the school's strategic plan.
Formative assessment provides a range of strategies that make the learning visible to the teacher and more importantly to the student. A key aspect of this strategy is for teachers to share the learning goal with students. Teachers at Wollongong West have been collaboratively analysing student assessment to set whole class and individual learning goals in Writing and Mathematics. The learning intention and associated purpose are clearly articulated to students every lesson.
Learning goals are visually displayed in the classroom. Examples include: we are learning to (WALT) and what I am looking for (WILF) posters, and displaying exemplary student work by showing what a good one looks like (WAGOLL). Learning goals have been effective in students knowing what they are learning, what successful work looks and how they will be assessed. This means that the learning is not a secret.
Another essential part of formative assessment is the use of feedback. Teachers have been provided professional learning in how to deliver effective feedback related to the qualities of the student work. Feedback is providing our students with a clear understanding of how they are going and what they need to do next to achieve their goal.
Students at Wollongong West are learning to be active participants in their own learning by assessing another student's work, know as peer assessment. In addition to peer assessment, students are assessing their own progress towards their goal known according to the criteria, known as self-assessment.
By providing our students with a clearer understanding of what they are learning, what successful work looks like and continuous feedback, they are becoming self-reflective critical thinkers, a major aspect of 21st Century learning.