Assessment in the PYP
By: Rae E. Kurth, 5th Grade Teacher & PYP Coordinator
Assessment is an integral element within the Primary Years Program. The goal of PYP is to effectively guide students through the curriculum in a thoughtful manner that is focused on the five essential elements of inquiry-based learning including: knowledge acquisition, conceptual understanding, skill mastery, attitude development, and taking action in the community. Assessment should begin with not only identifying the students’ prior knowledge and ability levels, but also with identifying how the students feel in all stages of the learning process. Everyone involved in the students’ education (teachers, administration, parents, and students) should have a clear understanding of the importance of assessment in the PYP.
The role of PYP teachers is to assess, record, and report constantly. Teachers need to assess the process and product of inquiry and to integrate the two. Assessments should be ongoing and consider how student initiated inquiries develop over time, if students are learning to be real world problem solvers, if students are acquiring knowledge and demonstrating the mastery of skills, and if students are given the opportunity to engage in collaborative group work.
Assessments should be both formative and summative. Formative assessments should occur often and should provide teachers with information as to how to plan each subsequent step in the learning process. Feedback should be constantly communicated to students in order to foster their growth as learners, enhance their motivation, and develop their self-reflection skills. Examples of formative assessments in the classroom include, but are not limited to: various student reflections of their own work, teacher documentation of group and individual understanding, student assessments of other students’ work, and the development of quality rubrics. Summative assessments should allow students to demonstrate their acquired knowledge and should relate directly to the central idea for each unit of inquiry. The goal of summative assessments is to identify student-learning outcomes, to enhance the learning process, and to motivate students to take action in their community.
Effective assessments should give students the opportunity to share their learning with others, exhibit a wide range of skills, utilize multiple learning styles, self-reflect, relate their learning to real life, and express various points of view on various issues and concepts. For teachers, effective assessments should guide the curriculum framework, help to plan each stage of the learning process, and provide tangible feedback for the school community. Parents should see evidence of student learning and provide support at home.
Assessments in Practice
Assessments should be both formative and summative. Formative assessments should occur so often that they are a part of the learning environment all the time. They should provide teachers with feedback as to how to plan each subsequent step in the learning process. Feedback should also be constantly communicated to students in order to foster their growth as learners, enhance their motivation, and develop their self-reflection skills. Examples of formative assessments in the classroom include:
· Assessing students’ prior knowledge in the form of a KWL, consensus boards, See, Think, Wonder charts, etc.
· Whole class discussions
· Experiences with real-world problem solving
· Various student reflections of their own work, experiences they have, concepts they learn, problems they face or can take action upon, current world issues, etc.
· Teacher observation and documentation of group and individual understanding using charts, checklists, and rubrics
· Student questioning
· Student assessments of other students’ work
· Student development of quality rubrics, guided and modeled by the teacher
Summative assessments should allow students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they acquire. They usually occur towards the end of a unit of inquiry and should relate directly to the central idea for each unit. The goal of summative assessments is to identify student-learning outcomes, to enhance the learning process, and to motivate students to take action in their community. Examples of summative assessments in the classroom include:
· Student presentations via role play, stand and deliver, persuasive presentations, jigsaw, etc.
· Student projects including traditional posters and reports, student created newspapers, dioramas, 2-D and 3-D models, simulations, videos, wiki-spaces, podcasts, websites, power points, etc.
· Chapter and Unit tests in math, science, social studies, language arts, etc.
· Showcases, exhibitions, or even putting on a festival, show, or play
· Various student reflections that exhibit that they understand and can address the central idea for the unit
· Student essays or other writing pieces
· A student made art piece created to reflect on an idea or learning