Success Criteria and Assessment

Learning Landscape Wednesday, 19 May 2021

I remember dreading assessment at school, mostly because I worried if I had stored enough facts/dates/formulas to get me through. Then, usually within 24 hours of completing the test, everything I had studied had been well and truly deleted from my mind, ready to be filled and emptied again as the next assessment came and went. Knowledge rarely sticks unless it has a purpose.

Try to imagine assessment that students actually enjoy. Assessment is an important part of education, but often the very word triggers stress and worry as we reflect on our own experiences of education. Assessment itself is not the villain in this story - it is how assessment is carried out and its purpose, that affects people negatively. Ineffective and stressful assessments often feature timed tests or exams, ‘fill-in-the-box’ worksheets’, an emphasis on memorisation of quickly outdated or Google-able information, or assessments with no opportunity to act on feedback to improve. This style of assessment is not seen here at Living Faith.

What does assessment look like at Living Faith?

Our assessment is ongoing and based on the work students are already producing. We do not learn things for an assessment - we assess things for the learning. The purpose of our assessment is to identify where students are on their learning journey and provide them with feedforward to keep them moving and improving. Research indicates that the most effective assessment allows students to demonstrate their skills and knowledge in multiple ways, values depth (not speed), and is authentic and connected to the real world so students can see the value of what they are doing.

We use success criteria to help students understand what they need to do to achieve the standard in each gateway. All classroom assessment tasks are guided and marked using success criteria. Students have access to the success criteria before, during and after they complete their work, allowing them to find direction, monitor progress and improve their work using clear expectations. Learn more about success criteria from our students here.

As part of the feedforward process, the teacher provides feedforward and shows the student on the success criteria precisely what they could do to bump their work up to the next level.

  • Christian Studies: students work on different gateways based on key enquiry questions, which are marked using success criteria.
  • Maths: at the beginning of a gateway, we undertake a collaborative (grapple) task based on concepts that we are about to teach. Students then receive feedforward, which can be applied to their gateway assessment called the ‘independent task’. Independent tasks are open-ended and allow students to demonstrate their understanding and apply it to authentic problems.
  • PBL: we aim to develop authentic, real-world assessments which reflect deep knowledge and understanding. Each gateway in the PBL success criteria builds towards a final product that helps answer the key enquiry question for the project.
  • English: for reading, students undertake DRA reading assessments where students’ oral fluency, accuracy and comprehension are monitored. In writing, each year level focuses on a writing genre each semester and writes texts in these genres, which are then marked using success criteria. Students then have the opportunity to use their feedforward and edit and improve their work. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are all assessed in context through students’ written work.

In summary, at Living Faith, we aim to provide students with open-ended assessment tasks which can challenge and engage them.

- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning