The following information outlines the K–12 assessment position of the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) and provides a foundation for building and clarifying knowledge and understanding of assessment literacy. It is intended to support and guide the processes integral to quality teaching, learning, assessment and reporting.
Teachers continually observe and monitor students’ learning and assessment will vary depending on the phase of learning.
All Queensland students deserve to benefit from high-quality assessment.
High-quality assessment provides timely and informative feedback about students’ learning progress. Effective feedback encourages self-reflection, allowing students to actively monitor and evaluate their own learning. Together, assessment and feedback support continuous, collaborative, active and self-directed learning.
- improves teaching by providing information on what students know and can do
- helps students progress in their learning
- provides meaningful information on students’ strengths, learning needs and achievements.
Assessment is the ongoing process of gathering, analysing and reflecting on evidence to make informed judgments about the achievement or capabilities of individuals and cohorts.
Purpose of assessment
Assessment plays an integral role in improving learning and informing teaching. Its fundamental purpose is to establish where learners are in an aspect of their learning at the time of assessment.1
Uses of assessment
Assessment information has multiple uses, including:
- provision of feedback to teachers, such as
- diagnostic evidence of students’ strengths, ways of learning, areas of development, the depth of their knowledge, and their conceptual understandings, which informs the teacher, so they know what students can do, and what subsequent teaching is required to progress student learning
- identification of students’ learning needs across a range and balance of assessments that enhances teachers’ ability to establish where students are in their learning and to help them attain higher levels of performance
- provision of feedback to students and parents/carers that gives
- clear, specific, meaningful and timely feedback, allowing reflection on the learning process and collaboration to support future learning and development
- evidence of student learning and advice for further progress, underpinning the provision of meaningful reports/statements to parents/carers and others
- development of lifelong learners by enabling students to identify and reflect on the progress they are making, which is crucial to building self-evaluation, self-efficacy and self-responsibility for in-depth and long-term learning
- refinement of quality teaching, by supporting teacher reflection and professional learning
- provision of information for certification
- measurement and evaluation of policies, programs, interventions and teaching strategies to provide better understanding of student achievement and growth.
Principles of assessment
Principles of assessment should be:
- aligned with curriculum and pedagogy
- equitable for all students
- evidence-based, using established standards/continua to make defensible and comparable judgments about students’ learning
- ongoing, with a range and balance of evidence compiled over time to reflect the depth and breadth of students’ learning
- transparent, to enhance professional and public confidence in the processes used, the information obtained and the decisions made
- informative of where students are in their learning.
Attributes of quality assessment
High-quality assessment is characterised by:
- validity, through alignment with what is taught, learned and assessed
- accessibility, so that each student is given opportunities to demonstrate what they know and can do
- reliability, so that assessment results are consistent, dependable or repeatable.
What is assessment literacy?
Assessment literacy is defined as the skills and knowledge teachers require to measure and support student learning through assessment (DeLuca, LaPointe-McEwan & Luhanga 2016).2
Teachers who are assessment literate:
- produce quality assessment
- demonstrate the required knowledge and skills to validly and reliably assess students’ learning
- consistently apply standards/descriptions to and make judgments about students’ learning/work
- interpret and apply the feedback and data from assessment to improve teaching and learning.
Students who are assessment literate are able to:
- understand the purpose of what they are doing
- understand the basis on which judgments will be made
- demonstrate this understanding through their engagement with assessment
- reflect on feedback and apply it in the future.
Assessment-literate teachers use quality assurance processes to develop a shared understanding of the expected quality of learning performance (Adie and Willis, 2016). This assists teachers to improve teaching and inform assessment processes.
Quality assurance processes involve teachers:
- engaging in in-depth conversations prior to teaching about what standards will look like in practice
- collaborating to design assessment tasks aligned with the principles and attributes of quality assessment
- sharing standards/marking criteria with students
- engaging in feedback, moderation and professional conversations and activities.
Moderation of assessment is a process in which teachers engage in focused dialogue to share their observations and judgments in order to:
- improve the consistency of their decisions
- ensure their judgments are as valid, reliable and fair as possible.
Conversations should occur before judgments about the quality of work are given to learners. This provides students and parents/carers with confidence that the decisions made are an accurate judgment of achievement.
Purpose of feedback
The purpose of feedback is to provide meaningful information about a student’s strengths and areas for improvement to support them to progress their learning.
How teachers and students make use of qualitative and quantitative assessment information is vital to understanding and improving learning. Effective feedback encourages self-reflection, allows students to actively monitor and evaluate their own learning, and facilitates self-direction and motivation. Together assessment and feedback support continuous, collaborative, active and self-directed learning.
Characteristics of effective feedback
To support evaluation, self-reflection and improved understanding, feedback should be:
- specific to the teaching, learning and assessment related to the standards/descriptions
- clear, and in language that is readily interpreted by the intended audiences
- timely, so that students can act on it and adjust their learning
- collaborative, so that students, teachers and parents/carers all support and participate in the students’ learning
- delivered in a way to support the learner to reflect, act on the feedback and build their capacity for self-assessment.
Purpose of reporting
The purpose of reporting is to communicate assessment information, formally or informally, to help students, parents/carers, teachers and education authorities make decisions about what students know and can do, including recommendations for their future learning.
Reports/statements may provide:
- information about progress and achievement to parents/carers and students
- summaries of the school’s achievements and progress for school communities
- statewide and national statistical information and analyses to broader educational communities.
Characteristics of effective reporting
To support the effective communication of achievement, areas for improvement, and actions that the student, school and parents/carers might take, reports/statements should be:
- aligned with the curriculum and assessment
- defensible, comparable and based on clearly defined achievement standards
- in plain English so they are easy to interpret and understand.
The National Education Agreement3 underpins the legal obligations of schools and teachers in relation to reporting.
1Masters, Geoff N (2014) ‘Assessment: Getting to the essence’, Designing the Future, Issue 1, August 2014, Centre for Assessment Reform and Innovation (CARI).
2DeLuca, C, LaPointe-McEwan, D, Luhanga, U 2016, ‘Approaches to classroom assessment inventory: A new instruction to support teacher assessment literacy’, Educational Assessment, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp 248–266.
3National Education Agreement (PDF, 1.2 MB), accessed 7th March 2017.