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VCAA Bulletin
No. 54 – November 2019
Feature story

Back to VCAA Bulletin No. 54 - November 2019

Putting formative assessment rubrics into practice

Formative assessment is any assessment that is used to improve teaching and learning. Best-practice is a rigorous approach, based on a three-step process by which evidence is collected, interpreted and used. Formative assessment provides feedback during the course of learning so that action can be taken to promote learning. Victorian teachers can now access materials to assist them to develop formative assessment rubrics and put them into practice in the classroom.

In conjunction with the Assessment Research Centre at the University of Melbourne, the VCAA is publishing nine online professional learning modules, based on the Guide to Formative Assessment Rubrics. The modules will support teachers to:

  • understand the process of developing and using formative assessment rubrics
  • design tasks that will enable teachers to gather evidence of what the student knows and can do,
    and identify what each student is ready to learn next
  • use feedback to progress student learning
  • differentiate classroom activities to support a range of student learning needs
  • reflect on their teaching practice.

Teachers can use the online learning modules to develop their own formative assessment rubrics and tasks. The modules contain videos explaining how to develop, assess and review a learning continuum, formative assessment rubric and task to gather evidence of learning in the classroom. Each module includes advice, guided questions and practice considerations.

The learning modules offer flexible, teacher-directed learning pathways and may be undertaken as group learning or be self-guided. Some teachers may work through the modules sequentially, while others may choose to focus on a specific aspect of planning, assessing or reviewing formative assessment rubrics.

In addition, teachers can access a range of rubrics, tasks and annotated work samples developed by a cohort of Victorian teachers who participated in a series of formative assessment rubrics workshops delivered this year by the VCAA. These rubrics cover a range of curriculum areas and levels. Videos capturing teachers’ insights into writing and trialling formative assessment rubrics are also provided.

Teachers participating in the formative assessment workshops were challenged to think about how they might use the curriculum and consider more deeply how to describe learning progression or growth in a specific component of the curriculum area. This approach supported the teachers to translate formative assessment rubrics into targeted teaching and learning tasks by asking questions such as: What am I looking for in this activity or lesson? How will I know what the students currently know and can do? How will I know what they are ready to learn next?

One teacher learnt that creating a rubric based on the curriculum ‘before you start planning the unit’ ensures a clear understanding of the ‘things you expect your students to be able to do, say, make or write’. Once she knew what she was looking for, she was able to understand what to cover in her lessons and what opportunities should be provided to the students to apply and practise specific knowledge and skills. For another teacher, formative assessment rubrics were the ‘missing piece in her teaching practice’. She could give much more targeted and constructive feedback to the students.

The sharing of these formative assessment materials – written by teachers for teachers and trialled in classrooms across the state – will support all teachers to have a go. Developing and using formative assessment rubrics can make a difference to the way teachers teach, which in turn helps student to progress.