Assessment Strategy and Process: Whole-school approach
A whole school placement alters the structure of the professional experience as well as the assessment method and aims to broaden the focus of the learning experience. Essentially, the PST rather than working with an individual supervising teacher and single class(es), is attached to the whole school and supported by a team of teachers from across the school. This allows the PST to access diverse teaching contexts, teachers and experiences across a section of or the entire school. This potentially provides PSTs with diverse opportunities to address the range of professional learning areas needing to be considered within the assessment process.
Whole school placements also have the potential to involve a group of teachers in the assessment process thus assisting with issues of equity and validity of assessment that can arise with an individual assessor. It provides the opportunity for shared approaches to supervision and collaborative professional judgments and assessment approaches such as Roundtable (see Strategy A: Roundtable). Commonly a team of teachers as a supervision group can accept more than one PST thus also providing the opportunity for paired or group PST placements and the potential for maximising peer learning opportunities (See Strategy E: Peer Grouping)
A whole-school approach could assist the PST to gain understanding of and experience within:
- a range of classes that include different age groups, curriculum areas, specialist focus and support unit classes
- whole school programs and teaching responsibilities such as sport, student welfare, acceleration programs, special needs programs.
- work with a range of teachers including specialists in areas such as languages, science, library, ICT specialists, additional learning support, sport and special education.
A whole school approach can assist teachers in:
- working with a collaborative team of teachers
- diminish the potential for inter-personal tensions or mis-matches that can undermine the relationships around professional experience
- undertaking an assessment approach informed by a range of teachers’ perspectives, specialist areas and forms of evidence
Specifically, this assessment method can be used to assess how PSTs understand, plan for and meet the different learning needs of particular groups of culturally, linguistically, intellectually diverse students, and how to adapt existing learning approaches in light of identified student needs.
Additionally, it can provide evidence to support assessment of whole school understandings and responses including policies, structures and community relations.
A whole school placement would need to involve:
- negotiation to occur between the university’s placement officers and the school to guide the formation of the teachers’ team that will act as a supervisory group. This may involve negotiations around adjusted supervisory payment schedules to individual teachers.
- communication and negotiation to occur within the supervisory team to clarify individual roles and responsibilities for aspects of the placement and in particular completion of tasks, observation schedules, feedback processes.
- specific criteria and expectations for learning experiences to be developed by the university in collaboration with schools to delineate relevant whole school or specialist area points of focus. Additionally adjustment may need to occur regarding the amount of specific classroom teaching undertaken by the PST to accommodate the PST’s involvement in a wider range of whole school experiences.
- clear guidelines shared with PSTs to be developed as to how the final grading and reporting requirements would be met. Ideally, these processes should be collaborative so that whilst one teacher may take a coordinating responsibility, all members of the ‘whole school’ team would have input into the assessment processes both formative and summative.