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Personal Assessment Philosophy

Brandon Ellis

Philosophy Statement: My philosophy on assessment is based on developing respectful relationships and giving
students an equal opportunity to showcase their knowledge in a variety of forms and in return, provide ongoing,
constructive feedback to drive improvement.

Assessment from the Beginning


I believe that assessment should not be thought of as an add-on or afterthought in the planning process. Planning
for learning should instead involve the identification of learning goals and content strands at the beginning. This
approach is supported and advocated by Wiggins and McTighe (2006). They reveal in their stages of backward
design, that teachers should begin by identifying what learning outcomes and content they want their students to
achieve. The next stage is to then decide on what evidence needs to be collected in order for students to showcase
proficiency and understanding (Wiggins and McTighe, 2006). Teachers can then plan the appropriate learning
experiences with the clear goals and assessment in mind (Wiggins and McTighe, 2006).

Functions of Assessment
I value all functions of assessment and believe that integrating formative, summative and self-monitoring
assessment, is the most beneficial to teachers and students. Graduate standard 5.1 of the Australian Institute for
Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) also highlights demonstration of all forms of assessment including informal
and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative (AITSL, 2014). However, I feel that extra focus should be made on
formative forms of assessment. Wolfolk and Margetts (2012), support this view stating that formative uses of
assessment are the most important. This form of assessment occurs during learning and helps students identify
areas for improvement whilst guiding the teacher in planning for learning (Lyons, Ford and Slee, 2014). Furthermore,
formative assessment often involves the use of pre-tests which are important for determining students current
knowledge as well as identifying how they learn. Patrick Griffin, an assessment and reporting expert emphasises the
importance of assessing for learning. He states in Wolfolk and Margetts (2012), that it is critically important to
identify students developmental level where performance is inconsistent. Identifying a students zone of proximal
development gives teachers the ability to plan appropriately. I feel that formative modes of assessment support a
major goal of assessment which should be to help reveal a students learning potential, and identify the types of
educational practices which will help them get there.
Snapshot: I can recall using formative assessment on my previous two practicums. Students were required to
complete a block of learning on a particular area of mathematics. This block of mathematics required me to gauge
student learning and progress. In order to do this I gathered samples of each students work to take home to mark. A
checklist was then created containing each students name, the area of maths and the achievement level to gauge
how successful each child had engaged with the topic. After analysing each students work I took aside individual
students over the course of teaching and provided them with constructive feedback.

Assessment as Ongoing
The ongoing aspects of formative assessment leads to the strong belief that assessment works best when it is
ongoing and not episodic. The University of North Carolina (2016), states that although one off assessments are
better than none and can have their place, improvement is best facilitated when it contains a series of linked
experiences undertaken over time. For example, this may involve tracking individual students progress or groups of
students. Essentially, ongoing assessment allows for the ability to monitor progress to set goals in nature of
continuous improvement (University of North Carolina, 2016). Importantly, throughout learning, the assessment
process should be evaluated and adjusted in accordance with new insights.

Authentic Assessment

I am of the belief that students should be given the opportunity to showcase their knowledge in a variety of forms.
One way in which this can be achieved is through the use of authentic assessment. Although traditional forms of
assessment such as essays, multiple choice questions, and standardised tests may have their place, they generally
have no specific application to real world settings. Authentic assessment is more focused on having students
applying knowledge and skills through real life situations (University of New South Wales, 2015). According to the
University of New South Wales (2015), authentic assessment allows students to contextualise their learning and how
the unpredictable nature of real life situations, affect their theoretical knowledge. Constructivists such as John
Dewey and Jean Piaget, also emphasise the use of authentic learning in their proposed learning theories (Wolfolk
and Margetts, 2012). An example of an authentic assessment task could be simulation or role playing of a scenario.

Assessment for Developing Self-Regulated Learners


I believe another goal of assessment is to develop self-regulated learners. In order to become successful learners,
and go through life as independent learners, students must learn to become self-regulated learners (Wolfolk and
Margetts, 2012). According to Zimmerman (2002), the requirements of self-regulation includes the ability to monitor
emotions, thoughts and behaviours in order to reach our goals. Furthermore, self-regulated learners make learning
easier through combinations of skills of learning and self-control, making them more motivated, thus having the skill
and will to learn (Murphy and Alexander, 2000). Therefore, I believe that in order to achieve this, it is imperative to
implement assessment as learning or self-assessment. This type of assessment happens at the beginning, during and
conclusion of units of work. Self-assessment provides opportunities for focused reflection of individual
metacognition, which promotes monitoring, evaluating and reflecting of learning (Wolfolk and Margetts, 2012). Thus
making it powerful in developing self-regulated learners.

Assessment Ethics
As an educator I also understand the importance of acting ethically and this carries into assessment too. Graduate
standard 7.1 of the AITSL standards also emphasises the importance of meeting professional ethics stating that it is
important to understand and apply the key principles prescribed in the code of ethics and conduct (AITSL, 2014). I
aim to adopt and employ the values that are presented by the Department of Education in the Western Australian
code of conduct. In regards to learning, it is important to employ a positive outlook and encourage it in others
(Department of Education, 2011). This means that attitudes to assessment should be positive thus I believe
assessment needs to be relevant and meaningful for students. Next it is also important to set high expectations for
ourselves and students (Department of Education, 2011). Implementation of high standards and expectations
demonstrates to students that we should all strive and challenge ourselves to give our best. Valuing equity is another
important value. Recognising that all students bring with them different backgrounds, cultures and abilities is critical
for success (Foreman and Arthur-Kelly, 2014). Thus it is essential that assessment is fair and designed to meet the
various diverse needs of all students. For example, many students have different learning styles so it would make
sense to create assessment that is visual, kinaesthetic and auditory in nature. Finally, we should be treating each
other with care and develop relationships based on mutual respect (Department of Education, 2011). In the context
of assessment, I believe this involves creating collaborative and respectful relationships through ongoing
constructive guidance and feedback.

Assessment Feedback
I believe constructive guidance and feedback is an essential part of assessment. Graduate standard 5.2 of the AITSL
standards, also emphasise the importance of providing feedback to students on their learning. They go on to state
that teachers should demonstrate their understanding of the purpose of giving constructive and timely feedback to
students in regards to their learning (AITSL, 2014). According to Lyons, Ford and Slee (2014), when feedback is given
to students, it provides a link for maintaining a positive outlook to approaching curriculum material. Furthermore,
research has demonstrated that feedback is a crucial element in the process of learning and that without the use of
feedback, learning becomes ineffective (Lyons, Ford and Slee, 2014). Importantly, in order for assessment to be
effective, feedback must translate into clear positive messages which students are able to connect with. For
instance, praise such as Great work, is not really helpful. Whats more helpful to students is telling them why they
are wrong so that it gives them the opportunity to learn more appropriate strategies. Wolfolk and Margetts (2012),
state that without this type of feedback, students are more likely to make the same mistakes again. Another

component of feedback is that it communicates to students that the teacher is acknowledging their effort and
progress, especially when it is related to set goals and links to each students individual learning needs. Essentially,
students become more motivated to achieve assessment goals when they know the teacher cares about their
progression as well as fostering the teacher student relationship. I believe developing a respectful, constructive
teacher-student relationship to be another important goal of assessment.
Snapshot: I can recall placing emphasis on giving my students more constructive feedback in my most recent
practicum. I felt that it was something to improve from the previous practicum where I tended to focus more on the
complimentary remarks like Well done or Great work. Instead, I sought out give students more specific feedback
on where they could improve or reinforcing where they went well. Importantly, these conversations resulted in
some interesting responses and revealed some great insight into how students were thinking. Not only did this give
me more of an idea into how I could help students but it also allowed me to plan for my future teaching.

Concluding Statement
I understand that with more experience my outlook on assessment will continue to evolve. Thus, with more
experience, I intend to adapt my philosophy in accordance with new discoveries.