Assessment tools

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Tool 7G: Key Challenge

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Issue/Challenge: Time Pressure

Summary:

For all teachers and schools the added work of guiding and assessing pre-service teachers in professional experience comes on top of their existing school/teaching commitments – time pressure frequently affects the quality of mentoring provided to pre-service teachers

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge: Teacher time pressure

Time during which the pre-service teacher (PST) is placed within a school site for a professional experience placement is precious for the PST’s professional learning.

However, for teachers working in professional experience programs, time pressure is commonly cited as a major concern within their own professional work. Time pressure can also cause teachers and academics to be reluctant to take on supervisory roles in professional experience programs.  All teachers and schools add the work of guiding and assessing PST in Professional Experience on top of their existing teaching commitments. For university academic mentors this work is often additional to their teaching and research commitments. Limits on teachers’ time to focus on PST’s learning and assessment can impact on the quality of mentoring that can be provided to PSTs and possibly limit the evidence assessors can draw on in making decisions.

Time pressure also is increasingly arising from the need for teachers to attend to their own professional accreditation requirements with state and national bodies (AITSL), including documenting their professional practice against Professional Teaching Standards at levels beyond that of the Graduate. Finding time-effective ways to combine work with PSTs as well as advancing teachers’ and academics’ own professional learning is an increasing challenge. Being part of a learning community that includes peer groups of teachers and PSTs can  result in time efficiencies.

Teachers can feel alone, time challenged and unsupported when required to work with explicit Professional Teaching Standards and carry an assessment responsibility within rigorous reporting protocols. In some cases teachers have not been provided with supporting professional development in these areas and are left to navigate their role with little school or university support. A ‘whole school approach’ to a professional experience placement can diminish the time each individual teacher needs to ‘find’ for PST supervision and offers teachers the support of working in a group.

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Assessment Strategy & Process

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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 is supported by a team of teachers from across the school.

With respect to time pressure a whole school placement can lead to:

  • more than one educator/assessor can be involved in the learning community – multiple teachers and tertiary mentors thus supporting more time efficient approaches to collaborative decision making in summative assessment and reporting.
  • collaborative planning and co-teaching experiences followed by feedback and evaluation by peer PSTs.
  • structured discussion sessions involving the PST group or additionally supervising teachers &/or mentors giving PSTs the opportunity to explore and share their experiences and reflections
  • specific tertiary mentors from the university  being allocated consistently to the school allowing more constant involvement of that mentor across the placement. Closer monitoring of the performance of PSTs is possible and the provision of additional assistance to both PSTs and their supervising teachers

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.
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Resources

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Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

  • An outline of roles and expectations associated with the ‘whole school’ program would need to be developed and shared. A meeting timetable may be required by the university or negotiated between the potential ‘whole school’ team members. Ideally this would include meeting (face-to-face or online) at least twice across the placement period.
  • A set of explicit questions, possibly linked to Professional Teaching Standards to guide discussion may be developed to support both formative and summative processes.
  • Development and presentation of a portfolio by the preservice teacher that documents the diverse experiences, observations and activities undertaken in various contexts and specialist areas within the school would provide valuable evidence to guide PST learning and support the assessment process. 
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Standards

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Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed within a Whole school Strategy. However, some standards present more difficulty for PSTs to access when placed on an individual class. As examples:

Standard1: 1.3.1, 1.4.1, 1.5.1, 1.6.1. These Focus Areas requires PST observation of and experience across students from a wide range of linguistic and cultural backgrounds as well as ability levels.

Standard 2: 2.4.1. Many single classes may not afford the opportunity for PSTs to deepen their understanding of educational approaches relevant to Indigenous students.

Standards 3 & 4: 3.4.1, 4.5.1. Exposure to specialist ICT teachers, spaces, strategies, resources can often be met more effectively on a ‘whole school’ basis.

Standard 6.  6.3.1. The opportunity to work with a range of teachers and develop a capacity for professional communication and teamwork are well met by a whole school approach.

 

 

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