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whole school assessment policy

April 21, 2013

You are the education system

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Teacher effectiveness and feedback are key levers for improving student achievement (Hattie, 2009; Masters, 2002; Wiliam, 2011). With teacher quality embedded in any rationale for change, a whole school assessment policy focuses on sustained integration of benchmarks, performance and feedback (Hattie, 2009). Commitment to engaging in praxis with our students yields a supportive community of learners; “Practice is transparent so that precision and specificity can be identified and spread” (Fullan, 2010, p. 60).  Goals and intentions will assist in setting targets, and reflect an undertaking to “begin with the end in mind” (Sharrat & Fullan, 2012):

  • Share beliefs and understanding among staff (CRESST report 802, 2011; Masters, 2002)
  • Drive an explicit improvement agenda (Barber & Mourshed, 2007; Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001; Sharratt & Fullan, 2012)
  • Articulate high expectations (Black & Wiliam, 1998)
  • Know our students and how they learn (AITSL, 2011; Sharratt & Fullan, 2012)
  • Activate responsive system conditions (CRESST report 809, 2011; Timperley, 2009)
  • Support students to become “owners of their own learning” (Wiliam, 2011, p. 132).


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Key Terms


Essential Features


Assessment for learning

Summative assessment = Ongoing review to evaluate students’ progress against standards and NAPLAN scales

Continually clarify, understand and share learning intentions

Plan to “Begin with the end in mind”

Embed assessment for learning practices – moderate and review work samples – to dramatically improve student achievement

Apply understanding of conceptual development and a continuum paradigm

Generate highly nuanced information about student performance and share

  • Louden, Rohl & Hopkins, 2008; Masters, 2002; Wiliam, 2007
  • Fullan, 2010; Guskey, 2007
  • Sharratt & Fullan, 2012, p.59; Wiggins & McTighe, 2000
  • CRESST report 809, 2011; Stiggins, 2005
  • Heldsinger, 2013; Sharratt & Fullan, 2012
  • CRESST report 802, 2011

Quality feedback to students and teachers

Relate to attributes of excellence

“Feedback moves learning forward

Feedback focuses “on what the individual student needs to do to improve”

Apply 5 key features of quality feedback along with success and intervention strategies, thereby avoiding unclear comments

Use collected evidence and promptly re-direct students as needed

  • Hattie, 2002
  • Wiliam, 2011, p. 120
  • Forster, 2006, p. 6
  • Chapuis, 2009
  • Guskey, 2007; Wiliam, 2011

Active learners

Design assessment logs where students self-regulate

Activate students as owners of their own learning: Promote metacognition, motivation, interest, attribution, self-assessment

  • Hattie, 2009
  • Black & Wiliam, 1998; Chapuis, 2009); Wiliam & Thompson, 2007

Measurement and monitoring

Apply system data to track student performance over time; school to use data from standardised tests to refine classroom practice and generate student improvement

Early and ongoing intervention

Focus on fine-grained assessment taking precedence over broad classifications of student performance

Undertake ongoing teacher observation and support; engage in ongoing clarification and exercise of care in judgement – employ pairwise moderation

  • Barber & Mourshed, 2007; Broadfoot & Black, 2004; CRESST report 809, 2011; Guskey, 2007; Masters, 2002
  • Sharratt & Fullan, 2009
  • Andrich, 2002
  • Heldsinger, 2012

Visible learning culture

Develop teachers’ conception of teaching “as an evidence-based profession” where benchmarks, performance and feedback are embedded as crucial to improving student achievement (Hattie, 2009, p.127)

Identify learning goals and success criteria; students’ latent ability to be rendered  manifest

Foster effective, quality teaching

  • Hattie, 2009; Masters, 2002


  • Heldsinger, 2013
  • AITSL, 2011; Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Louden et al., 2008

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The assessment practice outlined above is intended to inform and refine a school’s learning culture. As a complex, attuned, responsive process, careful consideration is required, especially when interpreting data (CRESST report 809, 2011); within that dynamic, understanding of evaluation draws on a continuum paradigm rather than simple measurement.

While challenges exist, achieving improvement in student learning demands an iterative process to harness the power of formative assessment. Research illustrates that within the unified nexus between teacher knowledge, assessment practice and student learning, synergy prevails.

My Favourite No: Learning from Mistakes

Selected references

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

Andrich, D. (2002). Implications and applications of modern test theory in the context of outcomes based education. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 28(4), 35–59. Retrieved from Science Direct.

Barber, M. & Mourshed, C.C. (2007). How the world’s best performing school systems come out on top. Retrieved January 25, 2013 from website: the-worlds-most-improved-school-systems-keep-getting-better/

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

Broadfoot, P. & Black, P. (2004). Redefining assessment: The first ten years of Assessment in Education. Assessment in education: Principles, policy & practice, 11(1), 7-26. Retrieved from ProQuest.

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:

Forster, M. (2009). Informative assessment: Understanding and guiding learning.  Paper presented at the ACER research conference on Assessment and Student Learning. Retrieved January 9, 2013 from:

Fullan, M. (2010). Motion leadership: The skinny on becoming change savvy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

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.

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:

Louden, W., Rohl, M., & Hopkins, S. (2008). Teaching for growth: Effective teaching of literacy and numeracy. The Graduate School of Education: UWA. Retrieved from University of Western Australia Course Materials Online.

Marzano, R.J., Pickering, D.J., & Pollock, J.E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research based strategies for increasing student achievement. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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

Sharratt, L. & Fullan, M. (2009). Realization: The change imperative for deepening district-wide reform. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

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: e

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.

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