As we approach the end of the term, students are readying themselves for various assessment instruments. All students in Middle School have been provided both with an assessment calendar and with an examination block schedule copies of which can be downloaded by following the links below.This has also been emailed to parents and is available on SEQTA. A key focus this term has been to improve the ‘formation’ of students in their learning, so that they are more ready to meet the challenges of their various assessment tasks.
Parents and students often ask me, what is the key to success in assessment. The answer is, there is no one key that works equally well for each student. In fact, in order to experience success, students need to adopt a number of behaviours and dispositions, six of which we have been focusing on this year, including:
1. Familiarising themselves with the style of assessment they are being asked to complete. In school, examinations take different forms. These include short Answer tests, extended response tests, extended response to stimulus tests and content tests. Knowing the mode of the assessment, should help students plan their study methods. Below are some of the characteristics they will need to consider.
Short Answer Tests
Students need to learn to provide information in a succinct way.
Answers should be short and sharp, referring to as much relevant content as possible.
Students will need to adapt the ability to read many questions, usually in timed conditions.
Learning how to deconstruct what each question is asking quickly, is required.
Extended Response Tests
The same conditions as for extended response tests, but in this mode of assessment, students will need to adapt the ability to respond to stimulus material which is often unknown to them.Students need to have a DEEP understanding of a breadth of content, so that they can apply it to unseen or unknown stimulus. Students will need to have an ability to read with purpose – circling over the text for context and message, and prowling through the text to understand how meaning has been made. They should spend considerable time ensuring they practice skills of comprehension – both implied and literal meaning. They should spend considerable time working with visual and written sources.
In this genre of test, students will need to recall key information which they have learned.
Students will need to ensure they have a good note taking system and have worked on memory retention strategies such as mnemonics. They should practice skills including: identifying, labelling, recognising, comparing and contrasting, describing and explaining. Some questions may be multiple choice. Students should practice test strategies, learning how to eliminate responses, narrow down and commit to answers.
2. Familiarising themselves with the content and skill requirements of the assessment instrument. In Year 9 Formation, for instance, students have been asked to identify the areas below.
3. Studying in a way which matches the mode of the assessment. If students are asked to write an essay, reading through notes isn’t the best form of study. Students should always practice the skills required for assessment tasks, as well as revising the content. Doing one without the other, is limiting.
4. Familiarising themselves with the success criteria and using the criteria as a checklist. In particular, students have been encouraged to look at the descriptors in the A range and ensure they know and understand them. Teachers have devoted considerable class time to going through these descriptors and showing practical examples of how sample work does and does not meet certain standards.
5. Familiarising themselves with the feedback they received in the last piece of assessment, and ensuring that any areas for action, have been taken.
6. Writing BETA rather than ALPHA sentences. In a nutshell, boys have been challenged to put more information into their sentences and take opportunities to develop their explanations. Sometimes boys will ‘know’ things that they don’t ‘show’. This is an ongoing conversation we are having with our boys.
I wish all boys well in the upcoming assessment and ask that each student performs his very best. Parents can certainly assist us in our efforts here, by ensuring a regular home study environment and a growth and resilience mindset around assessment. We invite all parents to engage with SEQTA to ensure they are also developing their awareness of teacher feedback to students on assessment tasks.
Congratulations to our Maths Team Challenge students who competed on Tuesday. THe Year 6 team came 3rd overall in the Small Schools category.
Kath Little, Dean of Learning