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Assessing student learning in EfS

Assessment is bigger than NCEA. It is the means (provides the evidence) by which we are able to judge how effective our teaching is, and for whom. And it is the means by which students can measure their progress.

Diagnostic and formative assessment

Effective teachers use diagnostic and formative assessment:

  • to identify different students’ strengths and needs
  • to provide detailed and thorough measurement of students’ progress
  • to identify the impacts of their teaching and the implications for future teaching.

EfS focuses on how students learn, as well as what they learn. How can you show the process by which their learning develops? What is the evidence of this process? What has happened for the student? What are the wider outcomes? Has something been protected in the environment, an environment enhanced, or a system developed or changed?

Evidence for a rounded EfS assessment may include the student’s plan, their journal or online log, evidence (for example, photographs) that they have carried out their planned actions, and their written evaluations of their work in relation to a sustainable future.

Recognising action competence: an example

Assessment needs to capture and contribute to building action competence.

For example, at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School, students keep online journals (similar to a blog) recording how their work is going, indicating barriers, things that are going well, and so on. The journals are accessible from outside school.

The teacher can see each student’s feedback, but the students see only what they have posted. The teacher responds with feedback and suggestions of what to do next.

One group that wanted to promote sustainability needed to talk to people at school and described in their journals their attempts to do this, while another group had to change plans suddenly. The teacher used journal feedback to offer alternatives to both.

The journal provides dated evidence that the students have been working at or outside the school. It is particularly useful for groups or for students who prefer to work alone.

Involve students in their own assessment

Knowing what is expected of them strengthens the ability of EfS students to judge when they have got there and contributes to developing their action competence.

Formative assessment in a variety of contexts should be based on shared learning intentions and explicit success criteria developed through quality discourse and learning conversations and reinforced by focused feedback.

Self and peer assessment exercises, opportunities for reflection together with attention to the processes of reflection, and journals or portfolios are all useful tools to help students benefit from assessment information.

Students in pairs or small groups could grade or annotate exemplar scripts then compare their evaluations with the actual rankings in class discussion.
Suggest that, in addition to teacher assessment and self-evaluation, students may also find it useful to seek feedback from other people (extended family, people in the community).

See also the section approaches that encourage action competence

Last updated April 22, 2015