Using the assessment data to improve learning

Assessment information is gained from matching the student written text to:

  • the task assessment criteria, including observational information
  • the success criteria negotiated or shared by the teacher in class prior to doing the assessment task.

Assessment information can be used to:

  • better understand students’ current development and progress
  • identify their future teaching and writing English learning needs
  • relate the assessment to what you know about the prior learning of students, and patterns of development of similar students
  • give a full insight into students’ development across all modes by combining assessment of written English language development with how students are progressing in oral and reading skills
  • understand and document achievement and progress by comparing recently completed writing tasks to those completed earlier.

Assessment information should first be used as the basis for self reflection and peer feedback, e.g. encourage students to use the assessment criteria established prior to doing the assessment task to guide their writing and for self reflection as well as peer feedback purposes for editing and improving their writing.

Assessment information should then be used to provide teacher feedback for the student. To enhance teacher feedback, follow these steps:

  1. Make a copy of the student’s text BEFORE you read and respond to it so that you can use the unmarked text as a basis for co-constructed feedback discussions with a student.
  2. Keep in mind that EAL students need help with their language skills as well as content issues.
  3. Draw on your own language awareness about why particular textual and grammatical patterns are used to achieve particular communicative purposes so that you can use the assessment information prior to feedback to plan:
    • focused questions
    • simple student friendly explanations (if the student cannot provide these themselves) and
    • examples to clarify some of the issues relating to the textual and grammatical patterns used in the student’s text.
  4. Show the student the unmarked text and ask the student to re-read the text to help clarify any questions about the meaning of the text.
  5. ‘Ask, don’t tell’ as much as possible during feedback discussions to build students’ reflective awareness.
  6. Make use of self and peer feedback comments on ‘success criteria’ sheets in relation to the text to encourage discussion.
  7. Ask reflective questions to see if students can identify and build on:
    • strengths
    • areas for improvement with language issues as well as content
    • identify improvement steps to take.
  8. Examples of reflective questions could be: What do you really like about this text? What could you do to improve the text?
  9. Ask more focused questions in relation to specific aspects of the text (such as language pattern issues) if the student finds it difficult to answer the more general reflective questions.
  10. Follow the principle of ‘two stars and a wish’ if students still find it difficult to respond to the more focused questions.
  11. Give students time in class to think about points arising from the feedback discussions and to re write the text putting the improvement steps into practice.
  12. Keep a portfolio of texts written by each student and make time at regular intervals to go through the portfolio with each student in order to demonstrate progress and to make areas requiring attention explicit.
  13. Keep a profile of students’ progress throughout the year to identify patterns of learner development.
  14. Use information on EAL students’ writing assessments at year, faculty and school level to review, plan and improve EAL teaching and learning programs and to facilitate effective targeting of resources within the school.
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