Friday, July 29, 2011

Curriculum - Part IV

THE WHETHER: This part of the curriculum refers to us knowing if we are achieving what we've set out to do. The key part of this is assessment. Assessment is the systematic collection, analysis and recording of information about student learning.

Fenwick English created a framework to describe the way curriculum is constructed. He refers to the written, taught and assessed curriculum in his model. In the diagram below I've also included 'The Hidden Curriculum', which isn't an official part of curriculum planning, but is something that I think still deserves recognition.

The crossing over sections of the venn diagram refer to specific parts of the curriculum. Things that are written and assessed, but not taught, include skills, attitudes/dispositions and external assessments. Those that are taught and written, but not assessed, could include some parts of PSHE. Things that are taught and assessed, but not written, could be instances that are referred to as the 'teachable moments' that occur during lessons. The Hidden Curriculum is what students learn that is not written, taught or assessed. This could include, among other things, social cues that they learn in the corridors or playground.

A school's assessment policy should be based around its definition which includes:
  • Perspective
  • Purposes
  • Principles
  • Practices
  • Policies
The policy could be organised around the different types of assessment that occur within the school:
The types of assessment listed in the table above may be commonly referred to by different terms. It is important to ensure that all staff have a common understanding of what each type of assessment entails and why they are being used at the school. The assessment types listed above are:
  • External - Assessments that are designed, selected, and controlled by another person or group, apart from the class teacher. Typical examples of external assessments include standardized and commercial reading tests. These assessments have been used as indicators of both the educational achievement of students and the quality of instruction in schools.
  • Common - Assessment that is given to a group of students where the data is used by multiple teachers. These can include grade wide reading, writing or numeracy assessments. Their purpose is to determine the understandings and competencies for a grade or level.
  • Chunk - Chunk assessments are those that are given within a class at the end of a chunk of learning, such as a Unit of Inquiry. These assessments measure individual progress and determine the level of understanding a student has reached as a result of a chunk of learning. The data from these assessments is used by the individual teacher. An example could be a contextual task given by the teacher based on a unit of work.
  • On-going - Similar to the chunk assessment, on-going assessment tasks also measure individual progress and the data is used by the teacher alone. The difference between on-going and chunk assessments is that on-going pieces can be administered throughout the learning to provide a clearer picture of how the students are progressing through their learning and what directions they need to be taken in next. An example of this could be a quiz.
Research has shown that a well-written assessment policy can be a conduit for sound curriculum development and instruction. An assessment policy should be clearly and concisely written - and contain more than just bullet points! There also needs to be adequate support for the practices necessary to implement the policy - this includes plans for the provision of professional development.

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