I attended the Pearsons Global Research Conference in Perth last month, which brought together educators from around the globe to discuss the role of technology and assessment in system wide improvement. In the past we have viewed assessment as a tool but there is a shift in viewing assessment as a tool for learning at system, school and student level. A 21st century curriculum requires a 21st century approach to assessment, that is, assessment that provides insight not only into student learning but informs teacher instruction.
In his paper ‘Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform‘, Michael Fullan states that critical thinking and reasoning, problem solving, collaboration, communication, digital base learning and citizenship will become the ‘new average’ for the rest of the century. The challenge for us is not only how we design assessments that enable students to apply and -reapply ‘the new average’ to tasks in order to understand the process as much as the facts but how we use the data to create learning experiences that stretch learners’ thinking. One of the key speakers was former adviser to Tony Blair and Chief Education Adviser to Pearsons, Sir Michael Barber who provided some suggestions on what we could be doing better.
What I realised after attending the conference was the depth of experience and research currently available on how we assess and report on student performance. While the focus was primarily on system level improvement, we are moving away from the one island approach to delivery on scale.