Assessment tools

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Tool 12H: Key Challenge


Issue/Challenge: School & Community Relations


Pre-service teachers need to have opportunities to engage with parents and caregivers and have professional experiences that involve learning about the broader school community and participating in building effective school-community partnerships.

Tool Summary:

Issue/challenge: School and Community Relations

Within traditional professional experience placements it is often a challenge for a pre-service teacher to gain an understanding of and experience in engaging with the school and students’ community, including parents/carers, and to develop and demonstrate capacity in this area of a teacher’s practice. This is particularly pertinent to PSTs developing and demonstrating the required Focus Areas within Standard 7 of the National Professional Teaching Standards, Engage Professionally with Colleagues, Parents/Carers and the Community.

 Any single professional experience placement site will be limited in its capacity to provide PSTs with opportunities to experience the divese aspects of teaching teachers’ professional responsibilities. These limitations can be exacerbated when a single class or supervising teacher is the focus of a PST’s professional learning. PSTs need to develop an understanding of schools beyond individual class teaching and see how the work of individual teachers fits within wider spheres of influence that include community interactions, communication with parents and other professionals involved with the school

It may not be possible for a PST during a limited time in a school to experience for example the organisation of excursions, sports carnivals, Parent/Teacher meetings, Harmony Day, Indigenous awareness activities etc.  Additionally, some teaching responsibilities such as communication with parents, working with specialists such as school counsellors will involve issues of privacy and sensitivity making it difficult for PSTs to be directly involved.

Hypothetical experiences can be designed and set up whereby the PST undertakes activities in ways that mirror the actual events. In such circumstances, understandings may need to be developed through engaging in hypothetical or pseudo activities that mirror the actual interactions and processes.



Assessment Strategy & Process


Assessment Strategy and Process: Hypothetical professional experiences

If the placement site is unable to provide the required range of experiences and learning opportunities to be assessed, hypothetical or pseudo experiences may need to be designed and completed by the PST. Hypotheticals offer experiencers and tasks that mirror activities often difficult to offer in an actual way.

As an example:

-The pre-service teacher in collaboration with key school personnel and the community may be required to engage in the organisation of a specific excursion, either actual or hypothetical. This work would involve mapping and planning the excursion against relevant curriculum and syllabus documents, developing understanding and applying relevant policies and institutional regulations as well as working collaboratively with teachers, other school personnel and community members.

-Additionally designing documentation and engaging in appropriate communication with all key stakeholders in a collaborative manner is required. This could include the preparation of hypothetical communication and information documents for parents/carers.

Elements of the process would need to include:

  • negotiation between the university’s placement officers and the school to guide the development of relevant hypothetical activities when opportunity for the actual experience is not available.
  • universities developing a number of ‘packages’ that could be accessed by supervising teachers to guide them in setting up and assessing PSTs across hypotheticals.
  • specific criteria and expectations for hypothetical learning experiences  developed by the university in collaboration with schools needed  to delineate relevant whole school or specialist area points of focus.
  • clear guidelines shared with PSTs would need to be developed as to how the final grading and reporting requirements would include evidence arising from PSTs completing hypothetical tasks.
  • portfolio, video work, peer group activities all present rich possibilities for use in particular hypothetical projects.



Resources: Protocols and Rubrics

  • A set of explicit questions, possibly linked to Professional Teaching Standards to guide discussion may be developed to support both formative and summative processes.
  • Evidence from hypotheticals could include: programs and lesson sequences developed and linked to syllabus documents, letters and communication documents for parents/carers, relevant resources, worksheets etc.
  • Hypothetical activities would provide a valuable portfolio component. Development and presentation of a portfolio by the preservice teacher that documents the diverse experiences, observations and (hypothetical) activities undertaken in various contexts and specialist areas within the school  would provide valuable evidence to guide PST learning and support the assessment process.



Professional Teaching Standards

All Professional Teaching Standards can be addressed within a Hypothetical  Strategy. However, some standards present more difficulty for PSTs to access when placed on an individual class, school and at a particular time within the school year.. 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.

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.

Standard 7. 7.1.1 – 7.4.1. Engage professionally with colleagues, parents/carers and the community.