Taking a moment to clarify

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As I continue my research on assessment and teacher perceptions one issue that frequently comes up is success criteria. Typically success criteria is worded in learner friendly “I can” statements. New Zealand’s Ministry of Education defines success criteria as

…how students will go about achieving a learning intention or how they will know when they have learnt it. The purpose of creating success criteria is to ensure students understand the teacher’s criteria for making judgments about their work, and so that they gain an ‘anatomy of quality’ for that particular piece of work. (n.d.)

I chose this definition because I love the phrase ‘an anatomy of quality’. I know that often in my own learning there are times when I am unclear what “good” versus “great” work would look like and I know this is an issue for my sons. Sometimes the rubrics given are so long, descriptive and jargony they cannot make sense of it and haven’t been given any exemplars to help them understand what a quality piece of work looks like. An anatomy of quality means that we know inside and out what a quality piece of work would look like. It takes some of the mystery out of assessment.

It struck me that giving my workshop participants success criteria would help them determine if they’d achieved the learning intentions of each session. I thought this would also help clarify some readers’ questions about where I am going with these workshops.

Here are the intended learning outcomes stated as success criteria for my teacher learners:

Session 1: I can state what my assessment beliefs are and how they impact on my practice.

Session 2: I can explain the purposes of assessment and how I apply them to my practice.

Session 3: I can define what feedback/feedforward is and explain why it is important.

Session 4: I understand the types of feedback and the purposes of each.

Session 5: I know how to give effective written feedback.

Session 6: I know how to give effective oral feedback.

Session 7: I know how to help my students use the feedback I give them.

I have designed this very simple rubric that teachers can use to self-assess where they are in their learning. This could also help them determine what area of assessment they’d like to focus on for their collaborative inquiry. The descriptors are the ones we use for reporting on student progress.

So, the first couple sessions are designed to help teachers understand their own conceptions of assessment and then work towards developing a shared vision of effective assessment practices. We will then focus on deepening our understanding of formative feedback as an effective assessment strategy.




New Zealand Ministry of Education, (n.d.). Success Criteria: Glossary. Assessment Online Te Kete Ipurangi. Retrieved from: http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Glossary/Success-criteria

2 thoughts on “Taking a moment to clarify

  1. Hi, Heidi!
    I think including success criteria is a terrific idea for teacher learning sessions. I also appreciate how you plan to use them as pre-workshop reflection questions to spark discussions and identify the look-fors or identifiers of effective assessment and feedback, and that you’ve organized them as one per session to spread out the workload. This is a workshop series I’d enjoy.

  2. Hi Heidi,

    Great rubric – I think it is clean, easy to follow and allows for excellent reflection for teachers attending your workshops. I had to take a moment to scroll back through some of your blogs to look at your burning question, as I’ve been trying to respond to many of our classmates over the past month.

    I was intrigued by a quote in one of your earlier posts: “Individual teachers’ beliefs and experiences related to teaching affect the way they perform” (International Baccalaureate, 2014) and can see how you’ve tied this into assessment as well. It would be much more difficult to assess student/teacher performance if you don’t believe in assessment!

    Your rubric reminded me of the ones we complete for the PME courses, but it got me thinking about my classroom (I am about to embark on my first college teaching job this fall) and am curious on your thoughts on student rubrics? Perhaps you’ve covered this in another blog post, so please feel free to point me that way, but some subjects are difficult to write a rubric for (or they will turn into the lengthy/jargon-filled ones like you’ve described). I’ll be teaching communications and some may say communication skills are subjective in some ways – how do I develop a rubric that acknowledges the range of abilities, but keeps it simple for them to follow?

    Thanks again for the thought-provoking read! 🙂


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