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learning plans

April 7, 2013

Pope quote

My school is a K-12 District High School located on the outskirts of Perth in Western Australia, and I was appointed as Learning and Teaching Associate this year. Our unique school context is significant to any discussion of improving student achievement. Since recent Expert Review Group procedures wrought prescribed improvement strategies, we achieved Independent Public School status, and transformative re-structuring is underway. Subsequent cultural change, together with an ongoing $25 million re-building program is causing upheaval. While school pride is strong, community perceptions are mutable.

By drawing on research to provide a rationale for my approach in planning a professional learning program, and through developing a whole school assessment policy to embed best practice in assessment, I intend focusing on promotion of an inclusive learning environment where the challenge of change demands “Learning is at the heart of what schools must be about” (Stoll & Bolam, 2005, p. 54).


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Guiding principles for a professional learning program devised for staff in my school include:

  • Build trust
  • Start with the end in mind – backward map assessments, and embed reflective/ review processes to promote assessment for learning
  • Audit to determine baseline data/ define requirements for differentiation with staff
  • Coaching/ mentoring processes will be ongoing in order to observe prompt re-direction of students’ learning as required
  • Implement moderation and review processes with reference to best practice, work samples and principles of educational measurement
  • Interpret and apply NAPLAN data to track student progress and teacher-led improvements in learning
  • Leverage the ripple effect of change theory to build capacity with staff, and foster improvements in learning
  • Draw on academic reading
  • Undertake ongoing iterative processes of learning/ unlearning/ relearning in order to ensure consistent feedback about visible improvements


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Professional Learning focus



Formative and Summative assessment Define purpose of assessment (for learning), and employ terms to build a common language/ understanding:

  • Embed What is working in assessment? review discussions during weekly team meetings
  • Undertake clarifying, understanding, and sharing learning intentions

Share resources:

  • Embed evidence based research into assessment policy and course structures
  • Cache documentation in school wiki/ shared drive
  • Promote learning goals with staff and students
  • Engineer discussions, tasks and activities that identify success criteria, and generate evidence of learning

Conduct professional reading group discussions to identify best practices and determine ongoing refinements as necessary

  • Wiliam, 2011
  • Black & Wiliam, 1998
  • Stiggins, 2005
Quality feedback
  • Know our students – discuss their learning needs whenever/ wherever possible, and continually refine practices, especially through attention to feedback that contains “a recipe for future action” (Wiliam, 2011, p.152)
  • Embed community of practice – share work samples, evaluate assessment rubrics, identify success criteria, review instructional strategies, and generate comments embodying attributes of excellence
  • Hattie, 2009
  • Wiliam, 2011
  • Masters, 2002
  • AITSL, 2011
  • Hattie & Timperley, 2007
  • Hattie, 2002
  • Chapuis, 2009

  • Observe
  • Reflect
  • Review 
  • Draw on system-wide data to inform standards
  • Devise IEPs and learning area adjustments in consultation with Learning Support Team to differentiate assessments
  • Establish peer support networks for staff  to self-reflect
  • Build understanding that assessment is a continuum – direct staff attention to releasing latent ability in order to make learning manifest
  • Barber & Mourshed, 2007
  • CRESST report 802, 2011
  • Guskey, 2007
  • Sharratt & Fullan, 2012
  • Wiggins & McTighe, 2000


Set targets
  • Undertake cross marking for consistency of judgements/ review of processes, and enhanced peer-learning
  • Align professional learning strategies so that we operate as learning-focused educators with our students in a community of practice
  • Vygotsky’s ZPD
  • Heldsinger, 2012
  • AITSL, 2011
Ongoing monitoring
  • Track students
  • Employ coaching/ teacher observations to establish feedback cycles specific to assessment eg wait time, higher order questions, random selection, hinge questions, exit tickets
  • Encourage reflective practice in staff and students eg peer evaluations, student self-reflection strategies
  • Moderate to share best practices, review effects and evaluate progress against standards
  • Sharratt & Fullan, 2012
  • Masters, 2002
  • Wiliam, 2011
  • Schon, 1991
  • Heldsinger, 2012
Visible learning culture
  • Celebrate successes: Integrate motivational and cognitive perspectives (Wiliam p. 151)
  • Harness the school’s learning culture to render learning visible eg bulletin boards, social media, newsletter, learning walls
  • Activate students as owners of their own learning; devise self-assessment activities, employ collaborative learning, design metacognitive strategies
  • Hattie, 2009
  • Masters, 2002
  • CRESST report 809, 2011
  • Wiliam, 2007


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Horizons “provide landmarks on a journey that offer their own viewpoints and… motivate travellers to find and forge their paths ahead” (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009, p. 49). In order to evaluate these initiatives and ascertain whether they generate improved student achievement, I will persist in “building professional cultures of trust, cooperation and responsibility and establishing professional networking of peers and mentors” (Harris, 2011, p. 167). Measurement will involve:

  • Evaluating motivation and emerging learning culture through staff and student self-reflection, and peer evaluation processes
  • Pairwise moderation tools
  • Observations
  • NAPLAN data and WACE results

Staff engagement in this professional learning program will indicate commitment “to deeper relations of trust in long-term communities that take the time to pursue and achieve inspiring and challenging goals that benefit students together” (Hargreaves & Shirley, 2009, p. 43).

Selected references

AITSL. (2011). National professional standards for teachers. Retrieved February 9, 2013 from:

Barber, M. & Mourshed, C.C. (2007). How the world’s best performing school systems come out on top. Retrieved April 4, 2013 from:

Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Retrieved January 26, 2013 from:

Chapuis, J. (2009). Where am I now? Effective feedback. In Seven strategies of assessment for learning (pp. 55-92). Moorabbin, Vic: Hawker Brownlow Education. Retrieved from University of Western Australia Course Materials Online.

CRESST report 802. (2011). Knowing and doing: What teachers learn from formative assessment and how they use information. Retrieved January 26, 2013 from website:

CRESST report 809. (2011). Relationships between teacher knowledge, assessment practice, and learning – chicken, egg or omelet. Retrieved January 26, 2013 from website:

Guskey, T.R. (2007). Using assessment to improve teaching and learning. In Reeves, D. (Ed.).  Ahead of the curve: The power of assessment to transform teaching and learning (pp. 15– 29). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press. Retrieved from University of Western Australia Course Materials Online.

Hargreaves, A. & Shirley, D. (2009). The fourth way: The inspiring future for educational change. California: Corwin Press.

Harris, A. (2006). Leading change in schools in difficulty. Journal of Educational Change, 7, 9-18. Retrieved November 3, 2012 from Springer.

Harris, A. (2011). Reforming systems: realizing the fourth way. Journal of Educational Change12(2), 159-171. Retrieved October 3, 2012 from EBSCO host.

Hattie, J. (2002). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Retrieved January 25 from website:

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning. Oxon: Routledge.

Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved from University of Western Australia Course Materials Online.

Heldsinger, S. (2012). Using a measurement paradigm to guide classroom assessment processes. In Webber, C.F. & Lupart, J.L. (Eds.), Leading student assessment (pp. 241–261). Retrieved from University of Western Australia Course Materials Online.

Heldsinger, S. (2013). Master of school leadership leading assessment and accountability. Retrieved January 26, 2013 from University of Western Australia LMS:

Masters, G.N. (2002). Teaching and learning school improvement framework. Retrieved February 1, 2013 from: crop.pdf

Schon, D. (1991). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Aldershot, Hants: Arena.

Sharratt, L. & Fullan, M. (2012). Making it work in practice – assessment. In Putting faces on the data: What great leaders do! (pp. 59–93). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Retrieved from University of Western Australia Course Materials Online.

Stiggins, R. (2005). Assessment for learning defined. Retrieved February 9, 2013 from:

Stoll, L., & Bolam, R. (2005). Developing leadership for learning communities. In M. Coles, & G. Southworth (Eds.). Developing leadership: Creating the schools of tomorrow (pp. 50 – 64). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Timperley, H. (2009). Using assessment data for improving teaching practice. Paper presented at the ACER research conference on Assessment and Student Learning. Retrieved February 9, 2013 from:

Timperley, H. & Robertson, J. (2011). Establishing platforms for leadership and learning. In J. Robertson & H. Timperley (Eds.). Leadership and Learning (pp. 3-12). London: Sage.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2000). Understanding by design. New York: Prentice-Hall.

Wiliam, D. (2007). Once you know what they’ve learned, what do you do next? Designing curriculum and assessment for growth. In R. Lissitz (Ed.), Assessing and modeling cognitive development in school. Maple Grove, MN: JAM Press. Retrieved from University of Western Australia Course Materials Online.

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 7, 2013 9:12 pm

    Nicely done! It’s a rarity to find writing devoted to teaching and learning FIRST. Maybe that’s why I keep coming back :>)

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