“Assessment for Learning”
Most people think of assessment as testing students to give them grades or scores; but assessment can also help students improve their learning. This approach is known as “Assessment for Learning” (AfL), and the Program is introducing it to Kosovo’s primary teachers.
AfL techniques will:
·Enable teachers to better assess students’ learning in every lesson;
·Enable teachers to identify their students’ needs and plan more effective lessons; and
·Help students to engage more actively in planning their own learning.
Developing national standards and promoting Assessment for Learning
Effective learning depends on having a goal to achieve; so the BEP Assessment Team has helped the MEST to develop new Standards of Good Practice and an exemplar Code of Ethics for School-Based Assessment. These have been approved by the MEST; all Kosovo schools will implement them.
Meeting these standards requires new skills, so the Program has prepared a 20-hour professional development course for teachers in “Assessment for Learning”, which is an accredited element in the MEST teacher certification system. This course was developed by a participatory process involving eleven “Assessment Lead Schools”; the participation of these schools ensured that the course is fit for purpose.
Over the remaining years of the Program (2012-2015), all primary/middle schools and their teachers will be able to access school-based training in assessment for learning. In 2011-12, sixteen municipalities, 145 schools and over 4,000 teachers will participate. The remainder will follow over the next three years. Two assessment facilitators from each school will be prepared by the Program’s master facilitators, and these school assessment facilitators will then train the teachers in their school.
Assessing 21st Century Skills
Natural sciences and mathematics are crucial areas for developing 21st century skills, so the Program has chosen to focus on them. Test item development teams composed of teachers and resource persons will develop and pilot new methods of testing some important National Curriculum outcomes which the current tests do not assess well.
Once a sufficient number of assessment tasks have been developed and validated, the Program will help the MEST to make them available to teachers through an online item bank. This will not only give teachers access to proven assessments for their own use; they will be encouraged to contribute their own tests, which will be uploaded to the bank after the MEST experts have reviewed them.
The Program will also offer the MEST Assessment Unit staff an ongoing program of professional development in areas such as moderation of school-based assessment, statistical analysis and item development.
Developing Diagnostic Assessment of Reading
The Program has a particular interest in the assessment of Albanian language reading. The Assessment Working Team in reading is currently developing guidelines for questioning and giving feedback in reading, based on a model of reading comprehension in Albanian related to the PISA assessment framework. Once this is finished, the team will develop exemplar reading comprehension items linked to the guidelines, which will be available to teachers through the MEST assessment item bank.
The Program will also adapt the international Early Grades Reading Assessment (EGRA) into Albanian, and use it to set a baseline of grade 2 reading skill. The Program will also re-analyse the data of the MEST grade 5 sample-based reading assessment, to determine national standards at grade 5 level.
Developing the Assessment for Learning Course – the role of the Assessment Lead Schools
The BEP Assessment Team developed the professional development program for teachers in “Assessment for Learning” in collaboration with eleven “Assessment Lead Schools”. Each of the eleven schools selected two teachers (one from the primary grades, one from the middle school) to work with the BEP Assessment Team over a six-month period.
First, these teachers were introduced to the key techniques of assessment for learning, which they then tried out in their own teaching. They shared the outcomes at monthly meetings. After becoming familiar with the basic techniques of assessment for learning, they were introduced to the conceptual framework of assessment for learning, and applied the approach in their schools.
These original teachers were then prepared as school-level facilitators, by means of a professional development program for learning facilitators. They then participated in developing a course on “Assessment for Learning”, based on the materials used in the regular workshops they had attended; and prepared themselves to deliver this course in their own schools.
Having completed the delivery of the “Assessment for Learning” course in their own schools, these teachers have now become the BEP’s core team of “assessment facilitators”, and are now ready to be deployed on a national scale. Beginning in 2012, they will play a central role in preparing school assessment facilitators in other schools and municipalities.