Assistant Principal – Curriculum, Assessment & Reporting 8 Aug 2018
When last I wrote, we were approaching a parent forum on reporting. Now that you have had a chance to review the Semester 1 reports, I thought it timely to share the feedback provided at the forum, and to ask for comments from those of you who were unable to attend.
The evening worked through three primary foci for the Secondary School: Interim Report Feedback, Semester Report Feedback, and the rationale for transitioning to an 'online, in time' model. As we have only been publishing interim reports to parents for three semesters, I was interested to hear whether it was a welcome and valued addition to the reporting stable. Those present expressed strong views that receiving a timely impression from teachers about student attitude and application to classwork was very much appreciated. Some even went so far as to say that this was the data in which they were most interested. When asked about the language of the descriptors, the response was that the scale printed below the report provided context and clarity. Nonetheless, we know that the language is a challenge for some, so I will be working with a small group of Heads of Department to see if we can settle on a better choice of descriptors. Please let me know if you would like to suggest an alternative scale or contribute to the conversation.
Discussion about the current form of the semester reports encompassed the criteria representing progress towards the Australian Curriculum Achievement Standards and the data included on grades, marks, class averages, student attitude and application. There was positivity about the data provided and an understanding of how it evolved from Year 7 to Year 10, to prepare students, parents and carers for the data that the Board of Senior Secondary Studies requires the college to report. Again, the summative comments, particularly from tutors, were valued as evidence that the student was known as an individual.
Finally, we moved to an explanation of what online, continuous reporting might look like. Sharing an example from a pilot scheme last semester, we were able to show what data could be made visible to students, parents and carers as the results for each assessment task were finalised. This approach will be trialled further with our Year 8 rotation subjects in Semester 2 of this year. Not only do we believe that it will enhance teaching and learning, it will enable us to push the teaching schedule deeper into the semester, as those teachers will not be required to craft a summative semester report comment after considering all the results. Instead, the feedback from each task will fulfil that purpose. As ever, we would be delighted to hear from parents and carers of Year 8 students through the semester, as you experience this mode of reporting for the first time.
The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership or AITSL has collated much of the recent and contextually relevant research about the importance of feedback into a readable document. The research findings are unambiguous about the importance of feedback being timely, clearly linked to learning goals, and seen as a tool to inform teaching. Your thoughts on this research are also invited.
It was a delight to hear enthusiastic praise of our students from an external invigilator of this testing last week. Radford was required to provide 34 students, selected by ACARA, to miss classes, many in close proximity to assessment. Whilst a number of students did respectfully express a clear preference to focus on their studies rather than this testing, they all acquitted themselves wonderfully well. They were commended for their courtesy, cooperation and attention to the task at hand. I am grateful for their efforts and their personification of Radford’s Learner Traits.