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Assessment to support learning

Good assessment is one of the keys to achieving better teaching and learning for all students.

Furthermore, it is one of the ten characteristics of quality teaching for the diverse student groups identified in Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis (Ministry of Education, 2003a). 

Recommendations from Best Evidence Synthesis (BES)

This BES recommends that assessment for learning should focus on how students learn and on learner motivation.

In addition, assessment for learning should be:

  • part of effective planning of teaching and learning
  • recognised as central to classroom practice
  • regarded as a key professional skill for teachers
  • sensitive and constructive (because any assessment has an emotional impact).

It should recognise the full range of achievements for all learners, provide learners with constructive guidance about how to improve and foster their capacity for self-assessment so they can become reflective and self-managing.

According to BES, assessment for learning should show commitment to learning goals and a shared understanding of what is required to meet the goals.

(adapted from Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis, pages 51-52.)

Assessment for Pasifika bilingual students

To know their bilingual Pasifika students as learners, teachers and schools need to:

  • monitor and assess their curriculum learning in appropriate ways
  • monitor and assess their progress in English
  • encourage them to develop their Pasifika languages
  • discuss with them their language proficiency and progress.

Set up times for students to work with a group of bilingual peers. Doing so can help you find out more about each student’s understanding of the curriculum and their ability to apply their understandings.

Assessing English using ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) tools

Bilingual Pasifika who children have entered the New Zealand schooling system with limited knowledge of English –  in comparison with their English first language (L1) peers – may need assessment of their English proficiency from an ESOL point of view. Some may need this for seven or more years.

ESOL assessments are an important component of schools’ usual English-language assessments because they pinpoint specific gaps that distinguish (set apart)  learning English as a second language from learning it as a first or only language.

ESOL funding

For ESOL funding purposes, mainstream teachers are often needed to assess ESOL students' English in mainstream contexts

Find out if your school has a teacher who is responsible for ESOL funding applications. See if there are any teachers who have expertise in helping mainstream teachers assess their EAL (English as an Additional Language) students’ English proficiency.

See the Ministry of Education website for more information on: 

Exploring your practice

How to assess bilingual EAL students

See if some of your colleagues would like to work with you on this investigation.

  • List the different assessment tools and processes you use. Describe their purposes.
  • Which assessment results do you keep records of? What use is made of these records?
  • From bilingual Pasifika students’ point of view, evaluate your current assessment practice. Identify the needs.
  • Brainstorm changes in assessment practices that would better support the long-term learning progress of your bilingual Pasifika students.
  • Plan and implement one change intended to meet an identified need of your Pasifika bilingual learners. Observe whether this change has the desired results.

Other resources to help you explore your practice

Assessment online – website that helps school leaders and teachers to gather, analyse, interpret, and use information about students' progress and achievement.

National Education Monitoring Project – has examples of assessment tasks in its published reports and makes previous assessment tasks available in packs for teachers to use.