Academic Focus | Assessment

Recently, I had the pleasure of joining the Senior School Assembly to speak with students about a topic that should occupy a great deal of their time and thinking, and certainly occupies a great deal of mine: assessment.

Over the past years I have spoken and written many times about the powerful nexus between learning and assessment. When we step deliberately into an attitude that sees assessment as opportunity rather than imposition, and foster our own disposition to embrace the challenges of assessment, then assessment programmes can deepen and accelerate learning. In this view, assessment is an integral part of the learning cycle itself, not just a final task at the end of a unit of work.

The first part of my Assembly address focused upon this notion of assessment as learning rather than testing. The boys were encouraged to see assessment as an opportunity to consolidate and apply their learning in a particular subject, and to use feedback to target their ‘next steps’ for improvement. Essentially, they were asked to bring a learning focus to assessment, rather than a comparative, or purely performance, lens. Students with a learning focus understand assessment as opportunity to:

  • Improve my outcomes
  • Receive feedback about what I know, understand and can do at this point in time
  • Set my next goals

Students with a learning focus in relation to assessment do these things:

  • Plan, draft and prepare early
  • Use the power of consistent routines to engage deeply with assessment opportunities
  • Refuse to compare their learning trajectory with that of others

The second part of my address highlighted some of the rules and regulations about assessment. These aspects of the School’s policy and procedures in relation to assessment come into greater importance and consequence as students move into the Senior School and towards the final credential. Some notable points are included here:

  • To achieve a school credential, students must engage with the assessment programme set by a School. Both the IBO and NESA devolve responsibility for an appropriate assessment programme to the School and expect students to participate fully.
  • Students must always conduct their academic studies with integrity. There are penalties for academic misconduct and malpractice that must be applied, some of which may place a student’s credential in jeopardy.
  • Academic misconduct is defined by both NESA and IBO as any dishonest behaviour that gives a student an unfair advantage over others or disadvantages another student. Plagiarism, collusion, duplication of work and misconduct during an examination are examples of academic malpractice.
  • There is always support and assistance available for students struggling with a particular assessment task or their assessment programme. Reach out to someone who can help while malpractice can be avoided.
  • Students must maintain a satisfactory pattern of attendance in relation to assessment schedules. In the Senior School, it is unacceptable to be absent from school the day before, or the day of, a task, without acceptable reason. Students absent on the day before or the day of a task must provide a medical certificate or other formal documentation to the Curriculum Office. It is noted that the requirement for documentation on the day before a task is due is an update in the 2021 Assessment Policy.
  • The School, NESA and the IBO have policies in relation to illness and misadventure. These policies apply to unexpected, short term events that prevent a student from sitting a task. If a student is unwell or suffers a misadventure, he should not sit the task. Contact the Curriculum Office immediately. Illness and misadventure policy cannot be applied after a task has been completed: if a student sits the task, the mark must stand.

The School regularly reviews its policies and procedures in relation to Assessment. The 2021 Assessment Policy has been updated in layout to provide simpler navigation for parents and students. The policy includes an outline of the approach to assessment at Trinity, and sections for Primary Schools, Middle School and Senior School, as well as relevant appendices. It is available on the TGS Community website or via this link. Students are reminded that it is their responsibility to be familiar with policies and procedures; parents and students are warmly invited to speak to a senior member of staff in the Curriculum Office if they would like clarification about an aspect of the Policy.

Next week, I would like to continue writing about the nexus between deep learning and high quality assessment. A new initiative, the Trinity Assessment Parent Portal (TAPP) will be introduced. This initiative allows parents of students in Years 7 – 12 a window to their sons’ assessment results, teacher feedback and personal reflections, as they are released to students. The application provides more timely information to parents, rather than waiting for the Semester Report. I am excited to be sharing TAPP with you next week and providing access to the application itself in Week 5!

Deborah Williams | Academic Dean

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