The new term began for faculty this Monday with a day of professional development on the topic of assessment. Our presenter was Damian Cooper, an educational consultant from Ontario who has worked in the field of assessment for over 30 years and is recognized nationally and internationally for his expertise and insight in this crucial area of education.
Damian engaged the faculty with a passionate presentation style and workshop exercises to get us thinking about such topics as differentiating our assessment for students with a variety of learning profiles and skill sets. We considered the importance of making criteria for success highly transparent to students in order to increase their awareness of how to succeed to their potential via such tools as rubrics, self assessment and peer assessment protocols.
Another crucial element emphasized was the providing of rich feedback to students in the assessment that is formative rather than summative, increasing opportunities in ‘practice’ situations to enable students to be better prepared for the ‘games’ whether these be tests, exams or more creative types of summative assessments such as scenario-based activities where 20th century skills such as collaboration, creativity and critical thinking are able to be observed and assessed.
In working on a more holistic approach to assessment that uses different types of evidence such as an oral interview to assess a student’s understanding and knowledge, we believe that opportunities for success and motivation towards meeting high, explicit standards will increase. By designing our curriculum with a reverse engineering approach to make sure we assess what we want students to acquire in terms of essential knowledge, enduring understanding and relevant skills, we will move the needle away from cram and forget towards understand and apply.
Making assessment our school’s focus area for this year’s faculty ProD has provided an important foundation for our planning for the new curriculum which will be phased in over the next few years.