Assessment tools

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Tool 8A: Key Challenge

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Issue/Challenge: Linking universities and schools around professional experience

Summary:

Teacher education institutions need to work closely with schools and teachers regarding communication about guidelines, expectations, and responsibilities relevant to the assessment process.

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge: Linking universities and schools

Professional Experience whilst school-based, requires coordinated effort from schools and teachers working with universities and academics. Jointly these educators need to support PSTs in integrating bodies of knowledge and practice that arise on campus and in schools, that is work commonly termed ‘bridging the theory-practice divide’.

Challenges around communication between universities with schools and teachers are commonly cited as sources of tension. These can concern information regarding guidelines, expectations, and responsibilities relevant to the assessment process. For many programs the major means of communication between universities and schools is in documented form through Handbooks and increasingly through websites. At times this leads to educators in both sites being insufficiently informed regarding expectations and issues significant to both the university and the school. 

In general, universities are responsible for setting the criteria/outcomes for assessment and in some cases the activities the PST is to engage in across the placement. These are usually aligned with specific unit of study outcomes to be reached as university course requirements and increasingly National Professional Teaching Standards. However, the implementation of these specific placement requirements and their summative assessment and reporting is largely the responsibility of individual teachers and schools. Navigating across what can be experienced as a university/school divide can present challenge to PSTs, teachers and academics.

Limited resources, specifically those associated with time, workload and finances can limit academics being present in school sites during professional experience placements. From the teacher perspective similar constraints can limit their access to communication and contact with the university. These constraining factors can also limit teachers’ access to relevant professional development to guide mentoring and assessment roles.

Roundtable assessment can bring together school and university-based educators either face-to-face or in online linkages. Professional Teaching Standards and their associated accreditation requirements have the potential to provide common ground around the professional learning needs of PSTs and supervising teachers. Developing a deep understanding of the Standards and what counts a s relevant evidence for their assessment assists with PST assessment as well as the portfolio work for teachers applying for accreditation at higher professional levels.

 

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Assessment Strategy & Process

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Strategy and Process: Roundtable Assessment

  • Roundtable practices enrich the assessment process in that they have the potential to explicitly structure the involvement of  a group of educators – both school and university-based. As such they can support the learning of the PST as well as supporting  assessors. The group can provide a range of perspectives, experiences and voices as well as guiding targeted assessment steps.
  • A roundtable can provide an explicit structure and process to support collaborative work between schools and universities around professional experience. Clear communication protocols, as well as clearly defined roles and responsibilities can improve the integrative quality of the assessment process.
  • Responsibilities within the assessment process both formative and summative can be shared thus offering support to ‘time poor’ educators, both from schools and universities. Experienced supervisors can mentor those teachers less experienced in the work of guiding and assessing preservice professional experience.
  • For summative assessment, when a range of perspectives from the roundtable group contribute to the final judgment,there is the potential for that judgment to take account of a wider range of evidence and judge its merit in a collaborative way. This can mitigate against issues arising from personal or professional ‘mis-matches’ and the   pressure of sole responsibility for assessment judgment.
  • Commonly roundtable processes lead to more explicit communication (verbal and document-based) regarding processes and expectations due to the need to develop shared group understandings. This can mitigate against commonly experienced deficiencies in communication between educators and PSTs and school and university-based educators.
  •  Roundtable assessment structures and processes can be a formal requirement of a specific professional experience program or be set up on an individual basis, for example for an ‘at risk’ PST, or when the supervisory      relationship is stressed or under tension.

 

 

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Resources

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Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

  • A meeting timetable may be required by the university or negotiated between the potential Roundtable members. Ideally this would include meeting (face-to-face or online) at least twice across the placement period.
  • A document outlining areas of concern, support strategies, expectations and timelines  
  • A Evidence Guides can be used in the production of focussed observation documents for assessors 
  • Summative judgement links back to documents assembled in Roundtable meetings, with collaborative discussion guiding the final reporting phase.
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Standards

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Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed within a Roundtable Strategy. However, particular aspects of practice may be focussed upon in specific  Roundtable meetings  during the placement. For example in an initial Roundtable meeting discussion of expectations would be outlined, and a timetable of meetings agreed to. Early formative meetings could focus on the preservice teacher’s understandings around the specific context, class, routines etc.

A portfolio could be used as a structuring device linked to particular Roundtable stages. A final presentation by the preservice teacher possible via a portfolio but requiring articulation of understandings would provide rich evidence to inform the assessment summative judgment.

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