Updates in technology has meant parents are able to receive regular feedback on their child’s learning well before the teachers send home the end of semester report card. Assessment and reporting are not only done once a semester or once a unit. Schools also undertake a range of student assessment and reporting activities to inform and support student learning throughout the year.
Assessment is the process of gathering and interpreting information about student progress for a variety of purposes including to:
- direct future planning and teaching
- inform teachers, students and parents about current understandings or misconceptions
- identify strengths and weaknesses
- create a ‘point in time’ snapshot of a student’s performance
- create a record of a student’s learning
- enable teachers to report
Assessment occurs on a continuing basis during the year and will involve both formative and summative assessment. These words are often confusing, but the key is in the beginning of each word. Teachers use formative assessment to form or inform the learning, whereas they use summative assessment to collect the sum of the learning.
Schools use formative assessment to provide teachers and students answers to questions such as:
- What do students already know?
- What do they need to learn?
- How are they progressing with their learning?
- What will they need to learn next?
Summative assessment is used to provide teachers with evidence of student learning to make judgements on student achievement against goals and standards.
Summative assessment provides information on student achievement in relation to the achievement standards of the Australian Curriculum for students in Years P-10 and the reporting standards of the new Queensland Certificate of Education Senior Subjects for students in Years 11-12.
Throughout the school year, student achievement is recognised, celebrated and reported in many ways. This includes informal meetings, awards at school assembly, parent/student/teacher interviews, class work being sent home and written reports.
Written student reports are provided twice a year and communicate student progress and achievement in the learning areas or subjects studied. The Australian Government requires schools to report in plain English and use a five-point scale to report on student achievement. This rating is based on a variety of assessment processes and is judged against the achievement standards of the curriculum studied.
Parents are also provided at least two opportunities each year to meet class and subject teachers to discuss the student’s progress and how they may be able to improve. These meetings provide valuable information.
WILL THINGS STAY THE SAME?
This year more than ever has seen the adoption of new technologies, so feedback and reporting have never been easier. Catholic schools and colleges are adopting the use of learning management systems (LMS), virtual learning environments (VLE) and eFolios to show evidence of learning and growth and provide ongoing, progressive feedback to students and parents.
When students know where they are going in their learning and teachers give feedback on how to get there, they are more likely to achieve success in their learning. Progressive feedback enables teachers to work with students to:
- Develop a strong culture of learning
- Locate and head off gaps earlier in the learning cycle
- Set realistic and relevant learning goals
- Improve engagement
- Improve parent communication and support
The required government reports and interviews are not expected to change in the short term. But, we will see an increase in opportunities for students to receive progressive feedback and for parents to have a greater understanding of how their child is going, well before the end of semester report arrives. This can only mean better learning and stronger partnerships for all involved.
QCE AND ATAR
In 2020, Queensland students completing Year 12 will receive a Senior Statement which outlines their results. Eligible students will also receive a Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE). To achieve a QCE, students must complete the set amount of learning, at the set standard, in the set pattern, and meet literacy and numeracy requirements. Students who haven’t achieved a QCE can continue to work towards one after they leave school. Both the Senior Statement and the QCE are awarded by the Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority (QCAA).
The most common means for students to access tertiary education is by an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR). The ATAR replaces the previous Overall Position (OP). The Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC) will calculate and issue an ATAR for all eligible students. Queensland ATARs will be based on a student’s best:
- five General subject results, or
- results in four General subjects, plus one Applied subject, or
- bresults in four General subjects, plus one VET qualification at Certificate III or above.
The ATAR is a fine-grained measure expressed as a number on a 2000-point scale from 99.95 to 0.00 in steps of 0.05 that indicates a student’s academic performance relative to all other students in the same cohort. The ATAR score is a percentile ranking of the student’s overall achievement out of all potential Year 12 students. So, for example, if a student received an ATAR of 80.00, it basically means they have scored better than 80 per cent of their peers. This ATAR system is consistent with the other states and territories and is used for university entry not only in Queensland, but also for students who wish to study at an interstate university.
You can read the parent’s information guide for QCE here.
Ursula Elms is the Director Learning and Teaching at Cairns Catholic Education