Assessment tools

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Tool 1J: Key Challenge

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Issue/Challenge: Equity and Validity of Assessment Judgement

Summary:

Experienced teachers (as assessors in the professional experience/practicum period) identify that making judgments about and assessing the performance (according to criteria or graduate standards) of preservice teachers can be a difficult and lonely task. Teachers recognise that this is a process often done in isolation and may have expressed concern when making judgments about their own personal bias or ‘subjectivity’ impacting on their decision making.

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge: Equity and validity of assessment judgment

For any assessor within professional experience there is pressure to make equitable and valid assessment judgments and this is compounded when assessment is largely the responsibility of a lone supervising teacher. It is commonly assumed that the Professional Experience Handbook and Evidence Guides alone can establish shared understandings and effective communication and that these documents will provide specific enough information to guide assessment judgment. However, it is not unusual when questions are asked concerning the appropriateness of an assessment judgment, that communication and expectations across the placement have not been sufficiently clearly understood, documented or shared. The pressure on judgment at both formative and summative stages can be lessened if the processes are guided by explicit or structured communication guidelines and protocols that provide both the assessor and the PST with a shared understanding of step-wise processes and expectations commencing with the orientation to placement phase.

 

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Assessment Strategy & Process

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Assessment Strategy and Process: Structured Communication and Orientation

A key issue within assessment processes is the need for a set of explicit and shared communication protocols and structured meeting steps to more effectively guide the Professional Experience placement. This will assist both assessors and PSTs in making more equitable and valid judgments. The placement needs to be a highly defined process guided by specific proformas and communication steps with key questions to focus observations and discussion specifically outlined for each step.

The orientation phase when PSTs are introduced to the school context, their supervising teacher, and the expectations of both the school and the university is a crucial step. An Orientation program is assisted by:

  • early organisation of placements allowing time for effective communication and ideally meetings
  • the PST completing a Personal Professional Experience Profile  (or similar) to document and communicate with educators their prior learning and goals for the placement as well as areas that may need additional assistance
  • a context-specific orientation document prepared by each school that outlines key  information relevant to that school setting, such as particular routines, policies, roles and responsibilities

Formative steps during the placement can be guided by:

  • a key focus supporting the PST’s capacity to self analyse teaching practice (past and present)  and to document and discuss their reflective evaluations.
  • set meeting protocols including specific guiding question and the co-completion of documents appropriate to the stage of the placement. Tertiary Education institutes can outline a prescribed set of steps with associated communication requirements.
  •  a prescribed number of Focussed Observations to be documented by supervising teachers and Tertiary Mentors and discussed with their preservice teacher.
  •  generic formats  provided as guidelines, then ‘customised’ with respect to the specifics of the placement: the preservice teacher’s needs and capacities, the placement context, the stage of professional learning etc
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Resources

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Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

Examples of communication protocols include:

  • PST Personal Profile – documents the PST’s prior experiences, goals, specific interests, support requested, then discussed with supervisors and mentors prior to the placement commencing.
  • Meeting program & protocols: Sets of tasks, relevant documents, key questions for each meeting step across the placement. For example each week may have a document outlining the areas for discussion and evaluation pertinent to that meeting.
  • Focussed observation formats – outline focal points for observation and analysis for example when observing teaching – can be structured against the National Teaching Standards. These formats can vary depending on the stage of the placement, particular context, PST’s learning needs.
  • Interim Report formats – commonly aligned with the structure of the summative report but designed to give formative feedback at for example the mid point ogf the placement.
  • Evidence Guides – clear articulations of relevant evidence for each Standard and Focus Area that can be discussed, structured into assessment rubrics, and referred to in summative assessment phases.

 

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Standards

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Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed. However, selected Standards and focus areas may be identified as relevant to a particular group of PSTs or a specific stage. A final presentation by the preservice teachers via a (shared) portfolio when articulation of understandings and performance against Professional Teaching Standards is required, provides rich evidence to inform the assessment summative judgment.

 Standard 6, Engaging in Professional Learning is particularly apt in terms of the PST focussing on the development of their own professional learning and providing evidence of collaborating in the professional learning of peers.

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