Assessment tools

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Tool 5F: Key Challenge

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Issue/Challenge: Guiding and Assessing 'At Risk' Students

Summary:

Guiding and assessing ‘at risk’ pre-service teachers is frequently the most stressful and potentially challenging aspect of supervising teachers’ work in professional experience. Placements need to be supportively managed with early identification, clarification of key issues, action plans put into place and clear communication protocols.

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge:  ‘At risk of failure’ preservice teachers

Assessors commonly state that guiding, assessing and grading a border-line PST who is struggling with Professional Experience and possibly ‘at risk of failure’ can be the most stressful aspect of their supervision role. Ideally, such PSTs are identified at an early stage in a placement as ‘in need of additional support’ and targeted support strategies put in place to assist their professional learning.

PSTs ‘in need of additional support’ frequently do not have a clear understanding of the assessment criteria, including the meaning of particular Standards, what would be valid demonstrations of their attainment, and ways in which their own practice is not meeting particular assessment criteria. Some supervising teachers and mentors are challenged in identifying and communicating clearly what is required and what needs further development. Explicit feedback and feed-forward to PSTs that arises from informed observation and analysis is often assisted by reference to Evidence Guides and specific rubrics.

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Assessment Strategy & Process

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Assessment Strategy and Process: Rubrics and Evidence Guides

PSTs who are experiencing difficulty within a professional experience placement and their supervisors commonly need assistance to analyse explicitly elements of practice that are of concern. Additional support strategies often need to target ways of making communication of expectations and goals to be attained more explicit.

Relevant Evidence Guides linked to Standards can assist both formative and summative assessment processes. Evidence Guides provide a range of suggested indicators that may need to be demonstrated and attained to meet a particular Standard. Evidence Guides ideally provide indicators for early, mid and late stage professional development stages and explicit frameworks to identify and describe problem areas for ‘at risk’ PSTS. 

Rubrics are developed to explicitly outline assessment criteria for particular assessable elements of teaching practice in clear language. A particular assessment task – for example production of a lesson plan and its implementation- may be guided by a focussed rubric which clearly sets out elements of practice to be demonstrated within the task. The rubric would provide description of aspects of the task possibly against a grading scale – ie Exceeds Expectations, Meets Expectations. Annotation of practice against a rubric provides clear feedback on aspects of practice observed and evaluated.

A rubric may:

-          provide the framework for explicit evidence production and collection.

-          provide descriptors of different levels of attainment relevant to assessment criteria

-          provide a framework to assist assessors giving the PST explicit feedback

-          be developed specifically for a particular PST, context, aspect of practice, ‘at risk’ situation

-          be developed by the university, supervising teacher, individually or collaboratively, as well as by the PST.

-          provide a structuring framework for a portfolio

-          be focussed toward the planning, delivery and evaluation of a series of lessons required to meet the learning needs of a specific group of students for example.

PSTs and their educators working with shared rubric or evidence guide documents can develop clearer common understandings of what is required and needing to be demonstrated during a placement. Such shared understanding contributes to a more equitable assessment process.

For ‘at risk’ PSTs the following process needs to be followed:

  • Clear identification and documentation of areas of practice that are of concern need to be made. This process will be  clear and transparent if rubrics outlining elements of practice are used  as communication tools.
  • An action plan would be developed outlining  specifically the support structures to be put in place, the elements of practice to be developed and the specific evidence required to demonstrate meeting  assessment criteria. Evidence Guides can contribute to this discussion.
  • Rubrics applicable in particular to those areas of practice presenting challenge are developed by educators giving the PST clear indicators of practice to be further developed
  • Evidence Guides such as that produced by Project Evidence provide explicit guidelines for both key learning experiences as well as relevant identifying valid forms of evidence that support assessment judgments with respect to particular Standards and Focus Areas.
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Resources

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Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

  • Evidence Guides and Rubrics may be supplied by the university as guiding documents and may have explicit requirements as to their status as well as time and method of employment. They may be provided only as advisory documents to be referred to if required by both PSTs and educators to deepen understanding of the assessment criteria.
  • A set of explicit guidelines regarding use of rubrics and Evidence Guides needs to be developed collaboratively by educators both school and university-based
  • Evidence Guides, particularly those that flesh out the Professional Teaching Standards at Graduate level can be a valuable document to guide focussed observation and providing feedback to PSTs,  supervising teachers and peers.
  • A generic rubric structure/document provides a framework for assessors to further develop for a particular assessment task, filling it in with the particular forms of evidence that needs to be produced to attain a specific assessment requirement.

 

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Standards

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Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed through associated evidence guides and rubrics. However, selected Standards and focus areas may be identified as relevant to a particular PSTs or a specific stage and these provide a  focus within an assessment rubric.  

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