Response #1 Dr. Kristen Clarke, Instructional Coordinator-Assessment, Peel District School Board
Students are at the center of classrooms where assessment for learning is thriving. In Ontario, our provincial policy document states that the primary purpose of assessment is to support student learning (Growing Success, 2010) and where we see effective assessment in place, we see empowered students and educators with a clear focus on equity.
Students are being invited to learn through a universally designed learning goal, which is then differentiated for students who have specific needs based on prior experiences, identities, and learning preferences or interests (Ontario Ministry of Education. 2013b).
Students are engaged in conversation about their learning and their goals at the beginning and at the end of learning, when they are asked to reflect on where they are now, what they need to do next, and how they are going to get there.
Not only are students a part of goal setting, they are also involved in deconstructing or co-constructing criteria that align with curriculum and possibly competency or learning skills and work habits. When students understand where they are going (through the goal) and how to get there (through the criteria), they are taking an active role in the assessment process.
As educators develop a sense of urgency around assessment as a tool for equity, they are using universal design for learning guidelines (CAST, 2018) and culturally responsive practices (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013a) to create space in learning for all students and to ensure assessment is fair, equitable and transparent (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010, p. 2).
To foster growth in learning, effective and descriptive feedback is part of classroom routines to ensure students have focused guidance on where to take their learning next. When assessment for learning is thriving, students and educators are engaged with assessment as a tool for equity.
CAST (2018). Universal design for learning guidelines version 2.2
. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org/
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2010). Growing success: Assessment, evaluation, and reporting in Ontario schools. First edition, covering grades 1 to 12
. Toronto, ON: Author. Retrieved from www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/growSuccess.pdf.
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2013a). Culturally responsive pedagogy
. Toronto, ON: Author. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/cbs_responsivepedagogy.pdf
Ontario Ministry of Education. (2013b). Learning for all: A guide to effective assessment and instruction for all students, kindergarten to grade 12.
Toronto, ON: Author. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/speced/LearningforAll2013.pdf
Response #2 Dr. Michelle Prytula, Dean, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan
Assessment for learning is a necessary component in higher education classrooms, especially in schools and colleges of education. Not only does assessment for learning facilitate learning at all levels, but when deliberately incorporated into post-secondary education curricula, it serves as a model for best practice in teaching and learning.
Usually used in conjunction with assessment of learning, and optimally also used with assessment as learning, assessment for learning can easily be incorporated into higher education classrooms by faculty and instructors in similar ways as it is used by educators in k-12 classrooms nation-wide.
What does assessment for learning look like in the classroom? It looks like both a fundamental shift in beliefs about assessment, and second, an intentional use of a variety of teaching and learning strategies.
For decades, faculty and instructors have been successful at planning for the collection of evidence of student learning, but deliberately engaging in assessment for learning requires a shift in fundamental beliefs about assessment, and as such the incorporation of a new intention in the way assessment is used. That is, rather than solely using the evidence of student learning as a summative measure of learning, it is used by both the teacher and student to improve the teaching and learning experience in situ, throughout the instructional term.
Through deliberately planning for, seeking, and using evidence for student learning, faculty and instructors are able to recognize and respond to gaps in student learning in interventive ways, prior to engaging in summative assessment. Visible strategies include: sharing clear learning outcomes at the outset of the course, lessons, and assignments; communicating and using assessment criteria early and often; using a variety of assessment strategies throughout the course; responding to learning gaps by adjusting teaching strategies; and providing early, frequent, and timely assessment (through self, peer and instructor feedback) throughout the term. Among others, these assessment for learning approaches also allow students the opportunity to calibrate their learning strategies and efforts and contribute to their own metacognitive development and monitoring of their learning.