When it comes to assessment, teachers are the experts. They are in the best position to accurately assess student progress; and to ensure that assessment and reporting are fair, equitable and inclusive. Principals are also key to ensuring equitable assessment, and to clearly communicating the purposes of assessment to school communities.
These values form the basis of the union’s Assessment and Reporting policy, which has been endorsed by the AEU Joint Primary and Secondary Council, following feedback from members. The policy lays out the principles that underpin genuine and educationally sound assessment and reporting (A&R) procedures, and seeks to ensure that they have an appropriate purpose and effective implementation, and that workload implications are considered when designing any A&R processes for schools.
Crucially, it finds that the authority of teachers to evaluate learning and assess progress is undermined by political interventions that favour narrow, standardised testing programs. Evidence shows that any emphasis on these programs comes at the expense of meaningful classroom-based assessments, and this can lead to negative educational outcomes.
The Education Department, through the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, should provide schools with a curriculum-based assessment framework that sets out levels of proficiency, developmental pathways and learning areas. That framework should be clear and easy to use – and should not be mandatory but instead used as a guide to support school-based assessment. It is also important that it is inclusive of the needs of all public school students, including those in specialist schools.
The AEU’s policy finds that initial teacher education should include the different purposes of assessment and their strengths and weaknesses, and the need for digital reporting through software programs and digital management systems to be underpinned by the principles of good reporting practice.
The full policy can be accessed at aeuvic.asn.au/education-committee-assessment-and-reporting-policy.