Assessment tools

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Tool 9A: Key Challenge


Issue/Challenge: Linking universities and schools around professional experience


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: Diversity of PSTs

Professional Experience programs need to support and guide an increasingly diverse range of pre-service teachers (PSTs). PSTs may differ greatly in terms of personal and academic backgrounds, age, gender, cultural and language origins, work and family responsibilities, disability as well as attitudes arising from their own experiences with schools and teachers. Additionally, PSTs commonly vary in terms of their goals, professional aspirations and emergent educational values. However, universities and schools are often limited in the extent to which they can individually tailor placements and the learning experiences and support structures for this range of PSTs.

Ideally, a professional experience placement will take account of such individual difference, particularly in cases where such factors may impact on the PST’s capacity to successfully complete a placement. Differentiation of experience and pedagogical strategies may be required with respect to levels and forms of support as well as variations of expectations and pace/timing.   Communication can be a challenge for example with PSTs coming from non-English speaking backgrounds, Some PSTs are particularly challenged by psychological or physical issues and disabilities which need careful accommodation.  In some cases what can emerge across a placement given such diversity, can be experienced by both PSTs and supervisors as inter-personal mismatches or relationship breakdowns.

Supervising teachers involved in assessment are often challenged in judging the extent and forms of differentiation and accommodation that needs to be included within a placement to meet particular PST’s individual differences. The challenge can be increased when the PST is experiencing difficulty, needs additional support and is possibly ‘at risk of failure’.



Assessment Strategy & Process


Strategy and Process: Roundtable Assessment

  • Roundtable practices enrich the assessment process in that they involve a group of educators – both school and university-based, supporting the learning of the PST as well as supporting each other as assessors. The group can provide a range of perspectives, experiences and voices as well as guiding targeted assessment steps.
  • Roundtable structures can support an assessment group to collaboratively clarify issues that may impact on an individual PST’s capacity to successfully complete the requirements of the placement. Additionally, the assessment group can decide together forms and extent of      differentiation and accommodation for a PST that is appropriate and equitable.
  • Educators with particular expertise – for example literacy support, curriculum area specialisation and relevant cultural and language background as memebers of the Roundtable group can assist where particular forms of support are required. Experienced supervisors can mentor those teachers less experienced in the work of guiding and assessing preservice professional experience.
  • For summative assessment in which a range of perspectives from the Roundtable group can contribute to the final judgment, there is the potential for that judgment to take account of a wider range of evidence and judge merit in a more 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 and mis-matches between  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 a particular PST, or when the supervisory  relationship is challenged or under tension.



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.

               See link for supporting students.  

  • An Evidence Guides can be used in the production of focussed observation documents for assessors.
  • Summative judgement can link back to documents assembled in Roundtable meetings, with collaborative discussion guiding the final reporting phase.



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.