Category Archives: Research

AtoL – Assess to Learn

The Assess to Learn Professional Development Project (AtoL) is designed to provide in-depth professional learning to teachers and leaders in the principles of assessment for learning.

A publication, National Education Findings of Assess to Learn (AtoL) Report, has recently been released on the Education Counts web site, describing the impact of the AtoL project.

As this research project and blog (Russell Street School ePortfolios) is based on enhancing assessment for learning through ePortfolios, the outcomes of this study are both valuable and interesting.

The four key outcomes of AtoL are to:

  • • improve student learning and achievement
  • • shift teachers’ knowledge and assessment practice
  • • develop coherence between assessment processes, practices and systems in classrooms and in schools so that they promote better learning
  • • demonstrate a culture of continuous school improvement.

To briefly summarise the findings…

1. Improving student learning and achievement:

Students whose teachers had focused their professional learning on reading and writing showed achievement shifts that were greater than the national expectations…

Students became more confident in understanding what they were learning and why. They were able to articulate learning intentions and success criteria. In many classes, students were also becoming more aware of self and peer assessment.

2. Shifting teachers’ knowledge and assessment practice:

Teachers gave targeted feedback to students. They relied less on praise alone and increased their emphasis on giving feedback that focused on the learning and next steps. Teachers became more focused on differentiating learning for individual students.

3. Develop coherence between assessment processes, practices and systems in classrooms and in schools so that they promote better learning

 …most teachers were clearer and more precise about what they were teaching and regularly reflected with students about their learning and progress. Teacher feedback to students specified achievement related to criteria, next steps and why the learning was relevant and worthwhile. Teachers demonstrated clear links between planning, learning and formative assessment.

4. Demonstrate a culture of continuous school improvement.

The combination of staff meetings, team meetings, classroom observation and one to one support, along with input from professional readings, ensured that schools were able to make significant shifts in teacher knowledge and confidence in the use of formative assessment practices. 

The report end by stating,

Involvement in AtoL resulted in significant shifts in learning and achievement for the majority of students, and shifts in professional learning and pedagogical practice for most teachers involved.

Great! I am pleased to hear that as that gives more substance and authenticity to what we are trying to achieve with our ePortfolio project.

Download the full report here to get further more detailed information and analysis.

Creating and Strengthening the Links between Parents, Teachers and Others

Futurelab is one sight that I often visit even though their RSS feed from their Projects page zips into my Google Reader automatically.

I recently revisited a project named My-E, which initially caught my interest after reading the project pdf:

The central aim of this project is to pilot an idea which aims to strengthen the ‘personal learning networks’ of young people – creating and strengthening the links between parents, teachers and others significant to the child’s learning – and to encourage dialogue within this network that will form the basis of more personalised learning pathways.

While the My-E project is directed at 5 & 6 year old students, it has a number of commonalities with the underlying themes and aims of this ePortfolio project. In fact the whole ePortfolio project was initially based around the idea of creating a community of learners, fostering a greater shared understanding for learners, their parents and staff of formative practice.

Our ePortfolios can facilitate, as described in the My-E pdf:

how digital technologies can be used to document, enable and enhance meaningful two-way home-school dialogue

and additionally dialogue between students.

I looked forward to reading the results of the project which begins classroom trials in August of 2008.