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  1. Scaling up formative assessment with teacher learning communities Dylan Wiliam AAIA Conference September 2010 www.dylanwiliam.net

  2. Overview • Making the case for formative assessment • Definitional issues • Scaling up

  3. Science Design The argument for change • We need to improve student achievement • This requires improving teacher quality • Improving the quality of entrants takes too long • So we have to make the teachers we have better • We can change teachers in a range of ways • Some will benefit students, and some will not. • Those that do involve changes in teacher practice • Changing practice requires new kinds of teacher learning • And new models of professional development.

  4. Raising achievement matters… • For individuals • Increased lifetime salary (13% for a degree) • Improved health (half the number of disabled years) • Longer life (1.7 years of life per extra year of schooling) • For society • Lower criminal justice costs • Lower health-care costs • Increased economic growth (Hanushek & Wößman, 2010) • Present value to UK of raising PISA scores by 25 points: £4trn • Present value of ensuring all students score 400 on PISA: £5trn

  5. Impact of education on health Proportion of adults reporting good health, by level of education (OECD, 2010)

  6. Which of the following categories of skill is disappearing from the work-place most rapidly? • Routine manual • Non-routine manual • Routine cognitive • Complex communication • Expert thinking/problem-solving

  7. …but what is learned matters too… Autor, Levy & Murnane, 2003

  8. …now more than ever… Source: Economic Policy Institute

  9. In fact low skill jobs are vanishing… Over the last eight years, the UK economy has shed 400 no-qualification jobs every day Beyond Leitch (Patel et al., 2009)

  10. …and recessions accelerate the trend… Beyond Leitch (Patel et al., 2009)

  11. The world’s leading manufacturers

  12. Where’s the solution? • Structure • Smaller/larger high schools • K-8 schools/”All-through” schools • Alignment • Curriculum reform • National strategies • Governance • Charter schools and private schools • Specialist schools and academies • Technology • Computers • Interactive white-boards • Workforce reforms • Classroom assistants

  13. % Public schools perform better Private schools perform better

  14. CVA and raw results in England 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 % of cohort reaching proficiency in 5 subjects including English and Mathematics 0.2 960 1000 1040 1080 School contextualized value-added (CVA) score

  15. Differences in CVA are often insignificant… Middle 50%: differences in CVA not significantly different from average (Wilson & Piebalga, 2008)

  16. …are transient… Future school effects for the 2014 cohort based on 2007 data with 95% confidence intervals (Leckie & Goldstein, 2009)

  17. …and are small • Proportion of 16-year olds gaining 5 GCSE grades at grade C or higher • 7% of the variability in the proportion achieving this is attributable to the school, so • 93% of the variability in the proportion achieving this is nothing to do with the school • So, if 15 students in a class get 5 A*-C in the average school: • 17 students will do so at a “good” school (1sd above mean) • 13 students will do so at a “bad” school (1sd below mean)

  18. Information for parents • Choosing schools on the basis of school performance data (Allen & Burgess, 2010) • Compared with random choice, the use of information increases the chance of getting the best school by: • Best CVA: 33% • Best % 5A*-C: 92% • Best capped GCSE points: 104% • Impact of getting the best school over the average: • One grade higher in 3 subjects out of 8 • 10% of students will cross a “threshold” such as 5xA*-C

  19. It’s the classroom… • In the UK, variability at the classroom level is at least 4 times that at school level • It doesn’t matter very much which school you go to • But it matters very much which classrooms you are in… • It’s not class size • It’s not the between-class grouping strategy • It’s not the within-class grouping strategy

  20. Impact of background on development (Feinstein, 2003)

  21. Meaningful differences • Hour-long samples of family talk in 42 US families • Number of words spoken to children by adults by the age of 36 months • In professional families: 35 million • In other working-class families: 20 million • In families on welfare: 10 million • Kinds of reinforcements: positive negative • professional 500,000 50,000 • working-class 200,000 100,000 • welfare 100,000 200,000 (Hart & Risley, 1995)

  22. … and specifically, it’s the teacher… Barber & Mourshed, 2007

  23. Teacher quality and student learning

  24. Teachers make the difference • The commodification of teachers has received widespread support: • From teacher unions (who understandably resist performance-related pay) • From politicians (who are happy that the focus is on teacher supply, rather than teacher quality) • But has resulted in the pursuit of policies with poor benefit to cost • To see how big the difference is, take a group of 50 teachers • Students taught by the best teacher learn twice as fast as average • Students taught by the worst teacher learn half as fast average • And in the classrooms of the best teachers • Students with behavioral difficulties learn as much as those without • Students from disadvantaged backgrounds do as well as those from advantaged backgrounds

  25. …so we have two choices… • A classic labour force issue with 2 (non-exclusive) solutions • Replace existing teachers with better ones • Improve the effectiveness of existing teachers

  26. Advanced content matter knowledge <5% Pedagogical content knowledge 10-15% Further professional qualifications (MA, NBPTS) <5% Total “explained” difference 20-25% The ‘dark matter’ of teacher quality • Teachers make a difference • But what makes the difference in teachers?

  27. Impact on achievement • If every TeachFirst teacher is as good as the average Finnish teacher, the net impact on GCSE would be one-four-hundredth of a grade in each subject. • If we could replace the least effective 15,000 teachers with average teachers, the net impact on student achievement at GCSE would be an increase of one-fortieth of a grade in each subject. • Raising the bar for entry into the profession so that we no longer recruit the lowest performing 30% of teachers would increase achievement at GCSE by one grade—by 2030.

  28. Or make the teachers we have better… • Improve the effectiveness of existing teachers • The “love the one you’re with” strategy • It can be done • Provided we focus rigorously on the things that matter • Even when they’re hard to do

  29. A case study in one district • Cannington • Urban school district serving ~20,000 students • Approximately 20% of the population non-white • No schools under threat of re-constitution, but all under pressure to improve test scores • Funding for a project on “better learning through smarter teaching” • Focus on mathematics, science and modern foreign languages (MFL) • Commitment from principals in November 2007 • Initial workshops in July 2008

  30. Progress of TLCs in Cannington Black nos. show teachers attending launch event; blue bars show progress of TLC

  31. Educational productivity 1996-2008 Source: Office for National Statistics

  32. Pareto analysis • Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) • Economist, philosopher, etc., associated with the 80:20 rule • Pareto improvement • A change that can make at least one person (e.g., a student) better off without making anyone else (e.g., a teacher) worse off. • Pareto efficiency/Pareto optimality • An allocation (e.g., of resources) is Pareto efficient or Pareto optimal when there are no more Pareto improvements

  33. Schools are rarely Pareto optimal • Examples of Pareto improvements • Less time on marking to spend more time on planning questions to use in lessons • Larger classes with reduced teacher contact time • Larger classes with increased teacher salaries • Obstacles to Pareto improvements • The political economy of reform • In professional settings, it is incredibly hard to stop people doing valuable things in order to give them time to do even more valuable things • e.g., “Are you saying what I am doing is no good?” • e.g., “I care about my kids”. • The essence of effective leadership is stopping people doing good things—to give them time to do better things

  34. Learning power environments • Key concept: • Teachers do not create learning • Learners create learning • Teaching as engineering learning environments • Key features: • Create student engagement (pedagogies of engagement) • Well-regulated (pedagogies of contingency) • Develops habits of mind (pedagogies of formation)

  35. Medicine Hat Tigers • A major junior (ice) hockey team playing in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference of the Western Hockey League in Canada • Players are aged from 15 to 20 • 15 year olds are only allowed to play five games until their own season has ended • Each team is allowed only three 20 year olds • Total roster 25 players

  36. Stats on the ‘Medicine Hat Tigers’

  37. Dates of birth of the 2003 Medicine Hat Tigers hockey team

  38. Why pedagogies of engagement? • Intelligence is partly inherited • So what? • Intelligence is partly environmental • Environment creates intelligence • Intelligence creates environment • Learning environments • High cognitive demand • Inclusive • Obligatory

  39. high arousal Flow anxiety challenge control worry relaxation apathy boredom low low competence high Motivation: cause or effect? (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990)

  40. Why pedagogies of contingency? • 1993-1998 • Reviewing research on formative assessment • 1998-2003 • Face-to-face implementations with small groups of teachers • Effect sizes ~0.3 standard deviations (equivalent to a 70% increase in rate of learning) • 2003-2008 • Attempts to produce faithful implementations at scale

  41. The formative assessment hi-jack… • Long-cycle • Span: across units, terms • Length: four weeks to one year • Impact: Student monitoring; curriculum alignment • Medium-cycle • Span: within and between teaching units • Length: one to four weeks • Impact: Improved, student-involved, assessment; teacher cognition about learning • Short-cycle • Span: within and between lessons • Length: • day-by-day: 24 to 48 hours • minute-by-minute: 5 seconds to 2 hours • Impact: classroom practice; student engagement

  42. Definitions of formative assessment We use the general term assessment to refer to all those activities undertaken by teachers—and by their students in assessing themselves—that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities. Such assessment becomes formative assessment when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs” (Black & Wiliam, 1998 p. 140) “the process used by teachers and students to recognise and respond to student learning in order to enhance that learning, during the learning” (Cowie & Bell, 1999 p. 32) “assessment carried out during the instructional process for the purpose of improving teaching or learning” (Shepard et al., 2005 p. 275)

  43. “Formative assessment refers to frequent, interactive assessments of students’ progress and understanding to identify learning needs and adjust teaching appropriately” (Looney, 2005, p. 21) “A formative assessment is a tool that teachers use to measure student grasp of specific topics and skills they are teaching. It’s a ‘midstream’ tool to identify specific student misconceptions and mistakes while the material is being taught” (Kahl, 2005 p. 11)

  44. “Assessment for Learning is the process of seeking and interpreting evidence for use by learners and their teachers to decide where the learners are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get there”(Broadfoot et al., 2002 pp. 2-3) Assessment for learning is any assessment for which the first priority in its design and practice is to serve the purpose of promoting students’ learning. It thus differs from assessment designed primarily to serve the purposes of accountability, or of ranking, or of certifying competence. An assessment activity can help learning if it provides information that teachers and their students can use as feedback in assessing themselves and one another and in modifying the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged. Such assessment becomes “formative assessment” when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching work to meet learning needs. (Black et al., 2004 p. 10)

  45. Which of these are formative? • LA science adviser using test results to plan professional development workshops for teachers • Teachers doing item-by-item analysis of key stage 2 maths tests to review their Y6 curriculum • A school tests students every 10 weeks to predict which students are “on course” for GCSE Cs • Three quarters of the way through a unit test • Exit pass question: “What is the difference between mass and weight?” • “Sketch the graph of y equals one over one plus x squared on your mini-white boards.”

  46. Formative assessment: a new definition “An assessment functions formatively to the extent that evidence about student achievement elicited by the assessment is interpreted and used to make decisions about the next steps in instruction that are likely to be better, or better founded, than the decisions that would have been taken in the absence of that evidence.” Formative assessment therefore involves the creation of, and capitalization upon, moments of contingency (short, medium and long cycle) in instruction with a view to regulating learning (proactive, interactive, and retroactive).” (Wiliam, 2009)

  47. Unpacking assessment for learning • Key processes • Establishing where the learners are in their learning • Establishing where they are going • Working out how to get there • Participants • Teachers • Peers • Learners

  48. Aspects of assessment for learning

  49. Five “key strategies”… • Clarifying, understanding, and sharing learning intentions • curriculum philosophy • Engineering effective classroom discussions, tasks and activities that elicit evidence of learning • classroom discourse, interactive whole-class teaching • Providing feedback that moves learners forward • feedback • Activating students as learning resources for one another • collaborative learning, reciprocal teaching, peer-assessment • Activating students as owners of their own learning • metacognition, motivation, interest, attribution, self-assessment (Wiliam & Thompson, 2007)

  50. …and one big idea • Use evidence about learning to adapt teaching and learning to meet student needs