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Alexandra Casa EDFD260, Assignment Two

The primary purpose of formative assessment opposed to


summative assessment in the form of NAPLAN, is to enhance
the quality of students learning understanding and
development. Discuss.
Assessment, the most important procedure both educators and students will face. According
to the Victoria State Government (2013) assessment is the ongoing process of gathering,
analysing and reflecting on evidence to make informed and consistent judgements to
improve future student learning. This assessment for learning can come in a variety of ways
with the most experienced being observation, self -assessment, rubrics and students work
samples. Although research shows summative assessment in the form of NAPLAN does not
benefit future student learning, there is a place for other forms of summative assessment
within the primary classroom.
Formative assessment promotes the goals of lifelong learning, including raising levels of
students achievement, greater equity of student outcomes, and improved learning to learn
skills (OECD, 2005, pg. 22). Formative assessment or assessment for learning can occur
during observation, student written journals, student self-assessment, peer assessment,
responsive listening, interviews, rubrics and feedback (Roskos & Neuman, 2012,
Greenstein, 2010). Research shows formative assessment is the most effective type of
assessment as it is ongoing, allows for immediate feedback from the teacher, themselves or
their peers, feedback that is in the exact moment, and the teacher has the opportunity to
enable or extend the students immediately (Kilty, 2015, Victoria State Government, 2013).
Formative assessment allows students to have a large responsibility towards their learning.
When receiving immediate feedback, students are able to use the feedback to improve their
learning on the spot, they are not forced to wait days, weeks or even months to improve their
learning. When giving students feedback on performance, educator must ensure the
feedback is goal referenced, tangible, transparent, actionable, timely, ongoing and consistent
(Wiggins, 2012). If the valuable feedback is provided, it is the responsibility of the students to
take on the feedback to improve their work. This lifelong learning, exposes students to
responsible decision making and self-management.
Student self and peer assessment is the most effective form of formative assessment as the
process develops a variety of skills (Dann, 1996). When assessing themselves, students are
taking responsibility, they are developing a greater understanding of the task and the
expectations of themselves, make and discuss their judgements of their work and then
regard the teachers feedback and improve their learning. Formative assessment is most
productive when students are trained in self-assessment so that they can understand the
purposes of their learning and grasp what they need to do to achieve (Black & William,
1998). McMillian & Hearn (2009) believe effective self-assessment occurs in two steps, first
students monitor and evaluate their own thinking during learning, and then are able to this
thinking to identify strategies to improve their own learning, understanding and skills. Selfassessment also improves students motivation towards a task, their engagement in the task
and their learning from the task (McMillian & Hearn, 2009).
Two of the most important domains within a classroom are literacy (English) and numeracy
(Mathematics). Students are exposed to these concepts before they go to school. They are a
part of everyday live. Being so important, it is essential for teachers to teach these domains
with the students best interests in mind. They also need to be engaging and relatable to the
students. According to Van De Walle (2014), assessment is the process of gathering
evidence about students knowledge of, ability to use, and disposition toward mathematics

Alexandra Casa EDFD260, Assignment Two


and making inferences from that evidence for a variety of purposes. This evidence cannot
only be assessed via summative form. Valuable assessment in the mathematics classroom
can be in the form of an interview, a rubric, work samples, open tasks and discussions. In
the literacy classroom, authentic assessment is designed to gain a more complete picture of
reading and writing processes (Flint, 2014). A complex picture cannot be gained from a
sample of work that is not justified, a simple conversation with the student while completing
the task, may provide teachers an added insight into the students knowledge and
understanding.
From 2008, students in year 3, 5, 7 and 9 participate annually in The National Assessment
Program -Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test (Nap.edu.au, 2015). The high stakes test
was developed to examine the knowledge and skills of students, compare their results and
rank schools accordingly. After 7 solid years of NAPLAN testing it is believed students whom
sit the test are unfortunately not learning from the process, instead students are feeling the
pressure to perform. After the implementation of this assessment, educators found
themselves teaching to the test rather than continuing their original style of teaching (Flint,
2014, Thompson & Harbaugh, 2013). The dreaded gloom of the NAPLAN test sees some
teachers become worried about a label rather that the learning of their students. When
students are learning to beat the test, the learning is shallow, the understanding is not
comprehended but remembered. Educators whom have had their students sit the test before
believe the test is a means for the governing body to rank schools, dent schools reputations,
staff morale and weaken the schools ability to gain new students and good educators
(Thompson & Harbaugh, 2013).
The brand of high stakes testing affects students confidence, persistence, and self-esteem
as they are forced to believe this measure of their ability defines their intelligence
(Minarechov, 2012). Reay & William (1999) note classroom culture has shifted from
supportive and collaborative learning environments to a competitive and individualised
methods of learning due to the implementation of high stakes assessment. During the
numeracy NAPLAN test, students are required to complete 32 test items in 40 minutes- an
average of 75 seconds per question (Carter, 2012 pg.36). When given such a short
timeframe to provide an answer for each questions, students thinking is not deep rather only
for the purpose of the answer, not the process. Dharmadasa, Nakos, Bament, Edwards &
Reeves (2014) discuss the importance of students reading the question carefully ensuring
they do not miss the vital message and understanding the strategies that can be used to
answer the question. Unfortunately, the time limitations during the NAPLAN testing does not
allow students the opportunity to explore the question, rather they are forced to rush the
process.
Students with high educative needs are persuaded into sitting this high stakes test. Although
students with sever cognitive disabilities, or English as a second language (ESL) students
can be exempt from sitting the NAPLAN test, this is not automatic release, as parents need
to request the exemption. Parents may not be familiar with the processes of the NAPLAN
test and therefore believe their child must complete the test. These parents and students
whom choose to participate in the test may apply for adjustments within the normal test as
changes are not automatically introduced. With all the changes that could potentially occur,
the test is still deemed to be high-stakes. NAP (2013) and the Australian Government have
committed to maximising student participation in this national assessment which encourages
these students persuasively, to participate it the test. Goldstein & Behuniak (2010) argue that
it is merely impossible for these students to be assessed against students who have the
developed cognitive and communication abilities.

Alexandra Casa EDFD260, Assignment Two


Extensive research shows many consequences of the NAPLAN test, but according to the
developers of the test there are some extreme advantages. NAP (2013) advise the results of
the NAPLAN test can be used by the students and parents to discuss with teachers,
teachers can use the results to better understand their students and therefore be able to
challenge and extend high performing students while identifying students whom need
support. The results allow schools to identify strengths and weaknesses within the school
teaching programs and use these to set future goals for development. Teachers are
therefore accountable. The main purpose for the NAPLAN test is to compare students on a
national level as well as comparing schools against each other. Other than the current
NAPLAN test, there is no other formal national assessment. Thompson & Harbaugh (2013)
state supporters of the NAPLAN test approve of the test due to the results promoting
accountability, transparency, while also measuring the basic skills of students and improve
student achievement. Anderson (2009) suggests NAPLAN can be used to develop students
thinking skills and self-confidence if teachers avoid practice testing. Phelps (2006) regards
NAPLAN as beneficial as the results are classified as more reliable than classroom teacher
grading. Slone & Kelly (2003) content high stakes testing provides students with the
opportunity to develop an understanding of their knowledge and skills which may motivate
students into working harder. If NAPLAN is used in accordance with other assessment
strategies, students can improve their learning. Summative tests should become a positive
part of the learning process. Through active involvement in the testing process, students can
see that they can be the beneficiaries rather than the victims of testing, because tests can
help them improve their learning. (Stiggins, 2002).
As research has shown, formative assessment allows students to develop their learning and
take responsibility for their learning. Summative assessment is useful for teachers in regard
to finding out what the students have learned, but it should not be the only form of
assessment. Formative and summative assessment can be used intertwined with each other
to ensure the teacher can get the best assessment of the students, both ongoing and after
the unit of work. Herppich, Wittwer, Nckles & Renkl (2014) believe formative assessment
can be used to summatively assess a learners understanding and formative assessment
might be collected to form a summative judgement (pg.935). As a teacher, one must
promote equity of student learning. If teachers rely on standardised testing, they may
destroy the self- esteem of the students. It is important to promote the students journey
before the results, otherwise the students learning becomes irrelevant. These small gains,
individual learning experiences and student journeys need to be celebrated, they need to be
valued and deemed important.