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Monday, 30 November 2020

Phonics Screening Check

Phonics Screening Check (PDF, 1.3MB)

Phonics Screening Check (PDF, 1.3MB)

The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is a short assessment that takes 5-7 minutes and indicates to classroom teachers how their students are progressing in phonics. The Phonics Screening Check is designed to be administered in Year 1, after students have had time to develop phonic knowledge, but with enough time left to make sure interventions and targeted teaching can still make a difference.

The Phonics Screening Check complements existing school practices used to identify students’ progress in developing foundational literacy skills.
This document provides a summary of information and data from the Phonics Screening Check trial delivered in 2020.

Published in Research report

Check-in-assessment-thumbCheck-in assessments – Years 3, 5 and 9 (PDF, 600KB)

 

What are the Check-in assessments?

The Check-in assessments are optional online reading and numeracy assessments designed to assist schools following the disruptions to schooling in 2020. The assessments cover similar aspects of literacy and numeracy as in NAPLAN reading and numeracy tests.

These formative assessments are offered for schools to:

  • supplement existing school practices used to identify how students are performing in literacy and numeracy
  • help teachers tailor teaching to meet student needs.

This page provides a summary of information and data from the Check-in assessments delivered in 2020.

Each assessment in 2020 was designed to be quick and easy to administer, consisting of approximately 40 multiple choice questions. Suggested completion time was 50 minutes, however, teachers could use their discretion based on the needs of their students.

Students in Years 5 and 9 completed the assessments during Term 3, Weeks 5 to 7 (17 August–4 September). Students in Year 3 completed the assessments during Term 3, Week 10 to Term 4, Week 2 (21 September–23 October).

Initial results were available to schools within 48 hours of test completion, enabling teachers to rapidly move to use the results in addressing learning gaps.

To assist teachers in using the results, test items were aligned to the NSW syllabus, National Literacy and Numeracy Learning Progressions and teaching strategies.

Student assessment feedback and mapping against the syllabus and learning progressions indicators was made available in the department’s reporting platform, Scout.

Features of the school reports included:

  • information at item-level with links to the questions and strategies related to the skill being assessed
  • information at syllabus stage and progression level for each student
  • feedback on strategies students may have been using if they got the answer correct or incorrect alongside how each student responded.

Records of student achievement of learning progression indicators were also available in the department’s PLAN2 platform, where teachers could monitor student progress and create ‘Areas of Focus’ for targeted teaching and skill development.

Support

Professional learning and assessment support was available to all teachers in participating schools for 2020 assessments. This included how best to make use of the assessment package for each school context, administration of the assessment, how to access and use feedback to help inform planning and strategies for teaching.

As at 10 November, more than 4,700 teachers had accessed:

  • online support, including live chat and sessions with other teachers to ask questions and share ideas
  • a range of online courses including guided professional learning to support the analysis of their students’ assessment information using a ‘data pathway’ (Terms 3 and 4)
  • strategies to identify areas to focus attention in aspects of literacy and numeracy
  • teaching strategies to address these areas specific to Years 3, 5 and 9.

Participation rates

Participation in the Check-in assessments was high, with 83% (1,775) of department schools participating (of schools with students in Years 3, 5 or 9). Participation was higher among primary schools than secondary schools, with 88% of all Year 3 students, 86% of all Year 5 students, and 61% of all Year 9 students participating in the Check-in assessments.
Participation was largely representative across various student and school groups.

 

Table 1: Number of schools and students participating in Year 3 Check-in assessments

 

 

 

Table 2: Number of schools and students participating in Year 5 Check-in assessments

 

 

Table 3: Number of schools and students participating in Year 9 Check-in assessments

 

 

*Note (for tables 1-3): Remoteness area is based on ASGC2016 remoteness area classifications. Inner regional and outer regional Australia are combined, as are remote and very remote Australia. Percentages of schools participating are calculated based on the total number of schools with enrolments in the relevant scholastic year, for each school type. Figures are based on the test participation data extracted from the test platforms on 10 November 2020.

 

Summary results

For each 2020 assessment, a quarter of the test items were NAPLAN items with known psychometric properties and difficulty estimates on the NAPLAN scales. This provided the possibility of linking the Check-in assessments with these scales to assist with further analysis.

After scaling and equating exercises for available results from Year 3, Year 5 and Year 9 tests, five assessments in Year 3 reading, Year 3 numeracy, Year 5 reading, Year 5 numeracy and Year 9 numeracy were able to be equated to the NAPLAN scales. Year 9 reading was not able to be linked to the NAPLAN scale due to a range of factors including test design differences between NAPLAN and the Check-in assessment.
As the Check-in assessments were optional, results were weighted (at student level and by prior performance band in NAPLAN test for Year 5 and 9 or prior performance band in Best Start Kindergarten assessment for Year 3, and remoteness) to arrive at population estimates.
Table 4 presents the estimated proportions of students in NAPLAN bands based on Check-in assessments measured in August-October 2020.

 

Table 4: Estimated (weighted) proportion of students by band, Check-in assessment (August-October 2020)

 

Note: Check-in assessment results were weighted to arrive at population estimates. Results need to be interpreted with caution as they have larger uncertainty than typical NAPLAN results.

 

Table 5 presents the mean scaled scores for each assessment, for 2019 NAPLAN and as estimated from Check-in assessments measured in August-October 2020. This table shows the August-October results in 2020 were similar to previous years’ NAPLAN results, assessed in May for Year 3 reading, Year 5 reading and numeracy, and Year 9 numeracy. In contrast, Year 3 numeracy Check-in results in September/October were substantially higher than previous years' NAPLAN results assessed in May (note that NAPLAN did not take place in 2020 due to COVID-19).

 

Table 5: Weighted mean scores of students in the Check-in assessments, compared to NAPLAN 2019

 

Note: Due to differences between the Check-in assessments and NAPLAN tests (e.g. test design, purpose of tests), caution is needed when comparing Check-in results to NAPLAN results.

Feedback

The response from schools as to the diagnostic value of the assessments has been overwhelmingly positive. Teachers have commented:
“the rich data gleaned is simply amazing!”
and
“as a class we use the Check-in assessment feedback to talk about how we solve number problems and what strategies we use”.

Conclusion

The 2020 Check-in assessments demonstrate the feasibility of conducting formative assessments that provide schools with rapid insight and highly targeted support in a short timeframe and reduced administrative complexity. The high take-up and strong support across schools demonstrates the willingness and ability of schools to use formative assessment to support their professional judgments in rapidly identifying gaps in student learning. The inability to equate Year 9 reading also demonstrates to some degree the limitation of a fast deployment in single state context. In the longer term the availability of pre‑calibrated assessments for use by teachers would further increase the uptake and usability of check-in type assessments.

At the system level, the comparison with 2019 NAPLAN demonstrates that students were generally performing in August-October 2020 at the same levels previously seen in May (with the exception of Year 3 numeracy). This indicates that on average students have fallen approximately 3-4 months behind in Year 3 reading, and 2-3 months behind in Year 5 reading and numeracy and Year 9 numeracy.

Published in Research report

Formative assessment practices in early childhood settings: evidence and implementation in NSW (PDF, 5MB)

 

Summary

This paper aims to support early childhood education (ECE) practitoners and policy-makers by bringing together the available research on formative assessment, contextualised to early childhood education in NSW. Formative assessment is an educational practice that has broad applicability and support.

In this paper, several aspects of formative assessment are discussed:

  • What formative assessment is and how it can be used in ECE settings
  • Current and emerging evidence supporting formative assessment practices in these settings
  • How several NSW ECE services have embedded formative assessment in their practices
  • The implications of the research for fostering greater application of evidence-based approached in the NSW ECE sector.

Related resources

Published in Research report

This podcast is part of an eight-part series. In this episode, Mark Scott, Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, speaks with Rooty Hill High School principal, Christine Cawsey and her students about how Rooty Hill embeds assessment in school practice.

From developing assessment-centred classrooms, to empowering students to identify and monitor their progress, hear how Rooty Hill is improving student outcomes.

Download the transcript (PDF, 180kB).
Access our other What works best resources.
 

Part of the conversation on video

The What works best: 2020 update audio paper outlines eight quality teaching practices that are known to support school improvement and enhance the learning outcomes of our students. The themes are not an exhaustive list of effective practices, but are a useful framework for teachers and school leaders to consider when deciding how to tackle student improvement.

Read by Rachel Smith, Samuel Cox and Vicki Russell.

Read the What works best: 2020 update publication.

Friday, 15 May 2020

What works best toolkit

What works best toolkit (PDF, 2.3MB)

What works best toolkit (PDF, 2.5MB)

Access our other 'What works best' resources

The toolkit includes a reflection framework. It supports teachers to reflect on their current practice for each of the What works best themes and identify areas for improvement. The reflection process involves outlining your current practice for each What works best theme and the impact of your current practice. Then, identify the next steps for improvement by considering areas of practice that need to be strengthened. This includes practices that need to be adopted/started, adapted/changed or stopped/discontinued.
When reflecting on your practice for each theme, refer to the strategies in the What works best in practice document, specific elements of the School Excellence Framework and to the standards of focus in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Published in Tools for teachers
Friday, 24 April 2020

What works best in practice

What works best in practice (PDF, 3MB)

What works best in practice (PDF, 3MB)

Access our other 'What works best' resources

 

Summary

What works best in practice supports teachers to implement the evidence-based themes outlined in What works best: 2020 update. It provides strategies and case studies against eight key teaching practices that are known to improve student outcomes.

The eight themes are:

  • High expectations
  • Explicit teaching
  • Effective feedback
  • Use of data to inform practice
  • Student assessment
  • Classroom management
  • Wellbeing
  • Collaboration

The themes provide a useful framework for teachers to ensure their practices in the classroom align with the evidence. The strategies in the document are a great starting point for practical implementation and the case studies provide some examples about how other schools have approached these practices. As always, it is important to consider the strategies within the unique context of your own classroom and school environment.

For more information

Our What works best: 2020 update lays out the research and data behind each of the eight themes.

The School Excellence Framework supports school leaders take a planned and whole-school approach to improvement. The eight themes closely align with the School Excellence Framework.

Published in Tools for teachers
Friday, 24 April 2020

What works best: 2020 update

What works best: 2020 update (PDF, 1.6MB)

What works best: 2020 update (PDF, 1.6MB)

Access our other 'What works best' resources

 

Summary

This paper is an update to our 2014 publication. The 2020 update outlines eight quality teaching practices that are known to support school improvement and enhance the learning outcomes of our students. The themes are not an exhaustive list of effective practices, but are a useful framework for teachers and school leaders to consider when deciding how to tackle student improvement.

The eight themes identified as likely to make the biggest difference to our students are:

1. High expectations

Teachers’ beliefs about their students influence how they teach and interact with them. High expectations are linked with higher performance for all students. The reverse can also be true. Students may achieve less than their full potential if expectations of their ability are low.

2. Explicit teaching 

Explicit teaching practices involve teachers clearly showing students what to do and how to do it, rather than having students discover that information themselves. Students who experience explicit teaching practices make greater learning gains than students who do not experience these practices.

3. Effective feedback

Effective feedback provides students with relevant, explicit, ongoing, constructive and actionable information about their performance against learning outcomes from the syllabus.

4. Use of data to inform practice

Teachers use data to check and understand where their students are in their learning and to plan what to do next. Effective analysis of student data helps teachers identify areas where students’ learning needs may require additional attention and development.

5. Assessment

High quality student assessment helps us know that learning is taking place. Assessment is most effective when it is an integral part of teaching and learning programs.

6. Classroom management

Classroom management is important for creating the conditions for learning. Effective classroom management minimises and addresses all levels of disengagement and disruptive behaviours.

7. Wellbeing

At school, the practices that support student wellbeing involve creating a safe environment; ensuring connectedness; engaging students in their learning; and promoting social and emotional skills.

8. Collaboration 

Professional collaboration allows best practice to be identified and shared across classrooms. Effective collaboration explicitly aims to improve teacher practices and student outcomes. 

For more information

Our What works best in practice resource provides strategies to support teachers to implement the eight themes in the classroom.

The School Excellence Framework supports school leaders take a planned and whole-school approach to improvement. The eight themes closely align with the School Excellence Framework.

Published in Research report
Thursday, 17 September 2015

Re-assessing assessment

Download Re-assessing assessment (PDF, 800kB).

What gives assessment a bad name? What is effective assessment? And what innovative tools are making assessment more effective? This paper examines developments in assessment around the world, and highlights cases of innovation and best practice.

Download Re-assessing assessment (PDF, 800kB). 

Published in Research report

PL curriculum planning assessment frameworks COGs

Authors: Christine Johnston and Wayne Sawyer

Evaluator company/business: University of Western Sydney

Year: 2009

URL or PDF: Download Impact of professional learning on teacher capacity in implementing curriculum planning and assessment frameworks final report (PDF, 256kB). 

Summary: The evaluation of the Connected Outcomes Groups (COGs) curriculum planning framework project reports on the effect of the project on teacher attitudes and outcomes. Areas of interest were curriculum planning, syllabus knowledge, understanding of pedagogy and assessment, productive engagement in collegial networks and increased capacity to measure analyse and report learning outcomes. The evaluation adopted both qualitative and quantitative methodology. Findings showed that overall, teachers perceived the COG’s project to be beneficial for their teaching however, there was some criticism regarding the repetitive nature of the content of the curriculum.

Published in Evaluation repository

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