Although reporting to parents is an important part of a school’s duties, the main purpose of assessing students is to ascertain where they are at as individuals so that next learning steps can be planned and areas of need, or gaps, can be identified. Teachers planning needs to be flexible and incorporate activities that provide stimulation and challenge for all students, no matter what level they are at.
Assessment results and progress are shared with students so that they can become aware of their own learning and help them develop strategies for self-improvement. Students need to understand their next steps/goals, and be supported in reaching them.
Assessment is an essential part of a school programme, and occurs formally and informally throughout the year. Formal testing, using nationally approved tests, happens early in the year and is used to develop a broad knowledge of both the individual students and the year cohort, so that comparisons can be made to previous year’s results and progress can be monitored. These tests are also administered at the end of the year for the same reasons.
Formal tests administered at HVS include:
- Reading Comprehension PAT (Progressive Achievement Test)
- Punctuation and Grammar PAT
- Mathematics PAT
- STAR test (Supplementary Test of Achievement in Reading)
- Six Year Net
- NUMP Test (Numeracy Project test for senior students)
- JAM (Junior Assessment in Mathematics)
- eAssTLe (Writing)
Informal assessment includes:
- Written marking and feedback in student’s books
- Verbal feedback and general discussion (conferencing)
- Observation of students in individual and group situations (speaking and listening)
All tests and assessments are combined by teachers to make professional judgements about a student’s progress. These qualitative judgements are called OTJs (Overall Teacher Judgements). The OTJs are made in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics, and are used to monitor progress and compare students across the school, region and nation in relation to the National Standards.
Reporting to parents also occurs formally and informally throughout the year. Formally, two written reports are sent to parents each year. The mid-year report is based around progress towards the National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. The end-of-year report covers progress across the entire curriculum. Students in their first three years of schooling receive a National Standards report around the anniversary of their starting school.
The school also uses Three-Way Learning Conferences (3WLC) each year which involve the student, parents and teacher discussing and sharing work and progress.
Informally, teachers and other staff may report to parents by face-to-face discussions before or after school, via email or phone calls, or by written notes. Interviews are arranged if needed.
Assessment results and OTJ data are also reported to the Board of Trustees and the Ministry of Education.