I have written several newsletter articles over the last 18 months on student assessment. Traditionally, people see assessment as either a big assignment that is spread all over the dining room table at home and then brought in for marking on the day that it’s due, or as a series of stressful, rigourous exams.

While I definitely think there is a place for rigourous examinations, the school is keen, for a range of reasons, to rescue families’ dining tables by moving away from too many massive assignments.

Rather we have been trying to develop a range of assessment tasks that measure what a student has achieved in order to inform students, parents and teachers on how to help each child to improve their knowledge and skills.

A more flexible approach

This year we introduced a more flexible assessment system where students are potentially completing more tasks that a teacher assesses than in the past; however, these tasks are designed to not consume large portions of a student’s time at home.

For example, previously a student in Year 8 May have completed a large English assignment at home, but this year in Year 8 students complete several smaller tasks largely partly in class time instead of the one big assignment.

These principles are being adopted from Kindergarten to Year 12, although the changes are probably most noticeable Years 7 to 9.

I understand that some of our students have found this change a bit of a challenge and I thank them very much for persevering and working with us as we modify our approach to assessment.

The revised approach to assessment has also given rise to us modifying how we report on student achievement. In this semester’s school report you may recognise a few differences in the information we provide, which better reflects the assessment program in each subject.

Continued revision in approach

We will continue to revise, and modify, the school reports over the next 18 months. I am hoping to take opportunities to consult with parents about what they want to see in a school report in order to provide them with a meaningful, understandable document that reflects what their child has achieved and how they can improve their academic performance.

A couple of weeks ago I asked two Junior School and two Secondary School teachers to attend a course entitled Better assessment: improving feedback, reducing correction.

I met with these teachers after the course and I was overwhelmed by the incredible passion and enthusiasm the teachers had for what they had learned and their earnest desire to work with their colleagues to put these ideas into practice.

During the staff professional development week in July, these teachers will share something of what they learnt with the rest of the staff, and then the teachers will work in small group teams to modify and develop specific assessment tasks that both accurately measure each student’s academic progress and also help them to improve their learning.

Mr Brett Hartley