Assessment Practices – What are they?

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Source: ‘…And With a Light Touch’ by Carol Avery.

Every day, as teachers, I believe we enter the classrooms with lots of wonderings and thoughts in our heads about what to do.  Not because we do not have plans for the day.  But we are trying to ‘work out’ the strategies and tools that can be used to support our learners.

Each student has different needs.  Each student learns at a different pace.  Have you ever had these thoughts before?

  • What can I do to make A understand how to add fractions with different denominators?
  • What else can I give to B as he has excelled adding and subtracting fractions?
  • What other websites/apps/manipulatives can I use to support C as a kinesthetic and visual learner?
  • …….

As I read Carol Avery’s quote which I found on Kath Murdoch – ‘The Power of Inquiry’ book, I stopped and reflected on my own practice. That’s absolutely true.  I don’t come to the classroom and start saying, ‘Alright, today we’re gonna learn about XYZ.‘ without knowing the student’s understanding.

“….We have to know what our students know now, where we are going with them and did they get there…. “

-Douglas Fisher- 

Assessment is one of the essential parts of the learning journey.  Just like in life, we continuously ‘assess’ ourselves, our lives.  We follow or create benchmarks, criteria in order to see how far we’ve gone and how further we can get.  We use feedback – what people say/think about what we do (although it’s not always positive and easy to take) to confirm what we are doing is right…or wrong. What did I do wrong?  What could be done differently next time?

“Assessment design is both backward and forward looking.”

Source: PYP: From Principles into Practice – Learning and Teaching – Assessment in the PYP pg.66

We’ve heard about assessment for, of and as learning.  There is a clear explanation about the three assessment practices in the document which’s a part of the PYP enhancement.

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Source: PYP: From Principles into Practice – Learning and Teaching – Assessment pg.80

Does one is more important than the others? How does each type of assessment relate to the different dimensions of assessment? Regardless of which assessment practice it is and the dimension of assessment it is,  it is to inform learning and teaching.  Both teachers and students benefit from this process.

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Source: PYP: from Principles into Practice and The Power of Inquiry – Kath Murdoch

Assessment for learning is an ongoing process.  It begins with developing the teacher’s understanding of what students know and can do at the point where the journey begins.  This is a crucial point where teachers can design/co-design learning collaboratively in order to provide students with proper support.  ‘If this happens….then what’s next?’  This is the situation that happens every day in every lesson in every class.   As teachers monitor and document learning, they keep on revisit their plan and strategy in order to best support the learning.  During the monitoring and documenting process, teachers should know what to look (refer to the written curriculum) and listen for.

Assessment as learning comes hand in hand with assessment for learning.  As students develop their understanding, knowledge and skills, they are involved in the process of learning – identify their weakness and strengths, identify ways of improvement, measure and be responsible for their own learning.  This means they have developed their reflection skills and be able to self-assessed and make the adjustment in order to be better learners.

Click on the link to be directed to the article.

Monitoring and documenting are happening during assessment for and as learning.  When documenting learning, teachers should carefully think of the purpose of documentation.

The visual about documentation of, for and as learning shows how documentation is parallel with the assessment.

Based on the data that is documented and gathered, teachers and students analyze it in order to measure the learning and teaching process.

Teacher: Does this teaching strategy help students to understand the concept of XYZ?  How do I know?  What should I change?

Student:  Do I understand the concept of XYZ?  What can I do to prove it?  How can I transfer this concept?

Reporting goes along with all types of assessment.  In the assessment for and as learning, feedback and feedforward are regularly given in order to ensure that student’s learning is progressing.  Students use feedback and feedforward to self-assessed and self-adjust the learning progress.

Formative assessment is the dominant means by which teachers and students gather evidence of growing understanding and mastery of skills in order to give timely feedback and design new learning opportunities.  Summative tasks certainly have their place but it is in the process of inquiring and the journey towards deeper understanding that the most useful assessment are made.

Source: Kath Murdoch – The Power of Inquiry pg. 134

Assessment of learning is usually known as a summative assessment which sometimes looks like a traditional/standardized test.  Students in many countries are required to take such tests.  Kath Murdoch, in the Power of Inquiry, wrote that many teachers have no choice about the administration of such tests but they can make choices about the extent to which they devote classroom time or energy to them.

The combination of these three assessment practices – assessment for, as and of learning is used to evaluate student’s learning.  At the end of the day, as teachers, we should always remember that students, the learners, are in the centred.  They need to be actively involved in constructing what and how learning is assessed.



  1. I’m very interested in how this looks in the Early Years. Do al practitioners know what to look for? Can they record their observations in a way to support the next step. Are our observations of use? Trying to get beyond planning for learning but catching learning as it happens and knowing what to do with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great questions, Kirsty! We all should know what to look, where to look and how to document what we look and listen. Recording, which has been broken down to documenting and measuring is another dimension that needs to be done collaboratively. Each of us must know what we document and what we are going to do with the documents (not only staying on the sheet or Seesaw for example). All dimensions should get us, teachers to always think of the next step. Your statement about going beyond playing for learning reminds me of the book that I just read – learning by wholes.


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