The purpose of assessment is to make judgments about how well students meet the general objectives of the course. In designing an assessment program, it is important that the assessment tasks, conditions and criteria are compatible with the general objectives and the learning experiences. Assessment then, both formative and summative, is an integral and continual aspect of a course of study. The distinction between formative and summative assessment lies in the purpose for which that assessment is used.
Formative assessment is used to provide feedback to students, parents, and teachers about achievement over the course of study. This enables students and teachers to identify the students’ strengths and weaknesses so that, by informing practices in teaching and learning, students may improve their achievement and better manage their own learning. The formative techniques used should be similar to summative assessment techniques, which students will meet later in the course. This provides students with experience in responding to particular types of tasks under appropriate conditions. It is advisable that each assessment technique be used formatively before it is used summatively.
Summative assessment, while also providing feedback to students, parents and teachers, provides information on which levels of achievement are determined at exit from the course of study. It follows, therefore, that it is necessary to plan the range of assessment instruments to be used, when they will be administered, and how they contribute to the determination of exit levels of achievement. Students’ achievements are matched to the standards of exit criteria, which are derived from the general objectives of the course. Thus, summative assessment provides the information for certification at the end of the course.
8.1 Underlying principles of assessment
The Authority’s policy on assessment requires consideration to be given to the following principles when devising an assessment program. These principles are to be considered together and not individually in the development of an assessment program.
Exit achievement levels are devised from student achievement in all areas identified in the syllabus as being mandatory.
Assessment of a student’s achievement is in the significant aspects of the course of study identified in the syllabus and the school’s work program.
Information is gathered through a process of continuous assessment.
Exit assessment is devised to provide the fullest and latest information on a student’s achievement in the course of study.
Selective updating of a student’s profile of achievement is undertaken over the course of study.
Balance of assessment is a balance over the course of study and not necessarily within a semester or between semesters.
Judgment of student achievement at exit from a school course of study must be derived from information gathered about student achievement in those aspects identified in a syllabus as being mandatory. The assessment program, therefore, must include achievement of the general objectives of the syllabus.
For Modern History, these aspects consist of the general objectives met through the chosen themes and inquiry topics.
Significant aspects of the syllabus
Significant aspects refer to those areas included in the course of study, determined by the choices permitted by the syllabus, and seen as being particular to the context of the school and to the needs of students at that school. These will be determined by the choice of learning experiences appropriate to the location of the school, the local environment and the resources selected.
The significant aspects of the course must reflect the objectives of the syllabus.
Achievement in the significant aspects of the course contributes to determination of students’ levels of achievement.
The assessment of student achievement in the significant aspects of the school course of study must not preclude the assessment of the mandatory aspects of the syllabus.
The significant aspects of the course comprise themes and inquiry topics selected by the school.
This is the means by which assessment instruments are administered at suitable intervals and by which information on student achievement is collected. It requires a continuous gathering of information and the making of judgments in terms of the stated criteria and standards throughout the two-year course of study.
Levels of achievement must be arrived at by gathering information through a process of continuous assessment at points in the course of study appropriate to the organisation of the learning experiences. They must not be based on students’ responses to a single assessment task at the end of a course or instruments set at arbitrary intervals that are unrelated to the developmental course of study.
For Modern History, this requires judgments about student achievement in terms of stated criteria and standards to be undertaken periodically through the course and recorded on a student profile.
Judgments about student achievement made at exit from a school course of study must be based on the fullest and latest information available.
“Fullest” refers to information about student achievement gathered across the range of general objectives. “Latest” refers to information about student achievement gathered from the latest period in which the general objectives are assessed.
Fullest and latest information consists of both the most recent data on developmental aspects together with any previous data that have not been superseded. Decisions about achievement require both to be considered in determining the student’s level of achievement.
As the assessment program in Modern History is to be developmental, information on student achievement of the objectives, therefore, should be selectively updated throughout the course. “Fullest” refers to achievement through the selected concepts and chosen themes and inquiry of the course of study. In terms of “latest” it is expected that summative assessment instruments will come from Year 12.
Selective updating is related to the developmental nature of the two-year course of study. It is the process of using later information to supersede earlier information.
As the criteria are treated at increasing levels of complexity, assessment information gathered at earlier stages of the course may no longer be typical of student achievement. The information should therefore be selectively updated to reflect student achievement more accurately. Selective updating operates within the context of continuous assessment.
Selective updating must not involve students reworking and resubmitting previously graded assessment tasks. Opportunities may be provided for particular students to complete and submit additional tasks. This may provide information for making judgments if achievement on an earlier task was unrepresentative or atypical, or there was insufficient information upon which to base a judgment.
Balance of assessment is a balance over the course of study and not necessarily a balance within a semester or between semesters. The assessment program must ensure an appropriate balance over the course of study as a whole.
Within the two-year course for Modern History it is necessary to establish a suitable balance in the objectives, assessment tasks, conditions and criteria. The criteria are to have equal emphasis across the range of assessment.