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PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158

Our nets define what we shall catch. - Elliot Eisner (Kelly, 2009, pg. 147)
Part B: Prior Knowledge Evaluation Assessment
Why prior knowledge evaluation should be carried out
Teachers and students come into the classroom with many assumptions about what will take
place, how they will do, and the role each actor will play in the rituals of teaching and
learning. Many of these assumptions are unavoidable, necessary, and helpful - the
assumption that learning will take place, that certain behaviours are encouraged, that
assessment will play a part, etc. But some assumptions can be a hindrance to learning and to
students meeting their potential. This includes assumptions about student ability,
sometimes based on prejudices and generalisations (deficit theorising), and also based on
prior testing and assessment data, which can be as much a source of prejudging students as
it can be a useful tool. I mention this is to preface that Prior Knowledge Evaluation (PKE)
assessment, while very valuable if conducted effectively, needs be seen for what it is: a way
to evaluate students prior knowledge and current ability with regards to a determined unit
of work, to aid the immediate future teaching of new skills and content in that unit. We
must be careful seeing it as more than this.
This being said PKE assessment is important exactly because of the assumptions a teacher
will hold entering a classroom of students at the start of a unit. It is natural to have
preconceived ideas about what students already know and the level we expect them to be
at. PKE assessment can correct these assumptions. PKE tasks are necessary at the start of a
unit so that the level of content and delivery is not significantly above or below where they
are at. They should be used by all teachers - regardless of self-perceived experience at
knowing what students are capable of at a given level - so they are meeting students where
they are. In other words: how can we know what to teach until we know what students
already know? This is of importance particularly considering that new knowledge is
impossible in isolation; all new learnt information needs to be linked to prior knowledge
for it to stick (Gardner, 1983). It is the way the brain works.
Prior knowledge should be seen as an opportunity then. It is, a gift they bring to class each
day. (Thompson, 2013, pg. 285). In enables you to touch only briefly on a topic if you
realise students already largely understand it, or empowers you to emphasise more
comprehensively an area you didnt realise they lacked an understanding of.

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158
PKE (similar to formative assessment as discussed below) should be part of every lesson,
part of teachers daily practice. It neednt always be formal. It can take the form of
questioning, mind-mapping ideas on the whiteboard, holding a class discussion, traffic
light techniques, Know/Want to Know/Learned charts, exit slips, etc. (Thompson, 2013, pg.
370). The educationalist Julia Thompson (2013) recognises that assessing students
previous learning is essential as it diagnoses students strengths and weaknesses (pg.
285). She explains that collecting baseline data on prior knowledge (specifically relevant to
a current unit of work instead of just replying on data from previous school years) allows
you, not only to design differentiated instruction activities and adjust the pace of learning
as the unit proceeds, but also to track student learning because you have a clear starting
point. (2013, pg. 370). This starting point is significant and it is usually here, at the
beginning of a unit or new area of learning, that a more formal PKE assessment task is
How the task will be carried out
As part of the unit Art & Identity attached I include two PKE assessments. The first, part of
the Art History half of the unit (Lesson 3 on outline attached), is a vocabulary-based
assessment (discussed below), and the other is a practical technique exercise (Lesson 8)
used to ascertain the level of students painting ability in a controlled and accessible way
prior to undertaking the main artwork.
The purpose of the Art Terms Worksheet PKE assessment titled How do we talk about Art?
is to get students thinking about the language they use when talking about their art and
the art they see, and to test their current understanding on the appropriate language to
use, how to define and describe the formal elements within paintings, and how to ascertain
the meaning of artworks.
On the sheet students are asked to use the words provided at the bottom, and come up with
their own, to write down at least 5 words that could be used to describe the range of
elements in an artwork. I would start the lesson involving this by questioning the class on
the main headings used and ensure everyone understands these words before they go on
with completing the sheet during the lesson, in an informal way where I go around to
ensure understanding. I dont believe that test conditions would be appropriate as I would
aim to gauge student understanding organically (as well as through data collection
described below) by roaming the room and even helping students complete the task.

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158

How information collected will be recorded
In regard to recording information based on this task (sample attached), I would aim to look
at students responses holistically, and for specific areas, and determine their
understanding or lack of understanding as well as their ability to complete the task. I have
also included a space for comments to more specifically describe where individual students
are struggling or already strong. This would give me a clear indication of areas that need
more emphasis as the unit continues.
Discussion of prior knowledge evaluation feedback to students
Unless a student is clearly struggling and needs individual attention, I would not plan to
give specific feedback to students about their performance in this assessment. This is
because I would not be telling them that the exercise is assessed (beyond contributing to
the holistic mark for the unit) as I believe this pressure in unnecessary and even
prohibitive for students, and I think it can also be argued that to formally test students on
knowledge they shouldnt necessarily already have can contribute to students feelings of
performance inadequacy, where they feel down for not understanding something before
they have even been taught it.
Part C: Summative Assessment
The purposes of summative assessment
The requirement and methods of summative assessment are not without contention. A good
illustration on how assessment can distort schooling, the British philosopher Alan Watts
explains that in the west we tend to think about life and education like a journey, always
with a set destination in mind (Watts, 2012). In primary school our goal is to reach
intermediate, then we aim to succeed to reach secondary school, and here, more than ever
before, assessment becomes a driving force. It is a benchmark set as a gateway for future
opportunities. Get NCEA Level 1 and you can proceed to the next stage, and so on. After each
hurdle in life another is around the corner. After high school it often becomes university,
then job prospects, then promotions etc.; always looking forward until one day we retire
and then finish in the grave (although this goal tends to be quietly ignored).
This purely goal-oriented approach, arguably a result of being under a capitalist system, of
which assessment plays an integral part, continually presupposes the requirement of

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158
extrinsic motivation for success (Freire, 1970; Bowles & Gintis, 1976). Watts finishes by
arguing that instead of thinking of life as being in need of a destination always, it should be
thought of more like music (Watts, 2012). No one thinks of the goal of a musical
composition as being the final note in the piece, that would be absurd. Instead the success of
music is based on how it is experienced (Dewey, 1938). So with life perhaps, and with
education, our sense of satisfaction and success should be measured on more organic
measures than any spreadsheet can ascertain.
In this way it can be argued that the existence of formal summative assessment, while
undoubted necessary for a variety of reasons and even helpful in many respects, sits in
opposition to what should be our main aims in education - the promotion of lifelong
learning, the love of learning for its own sake, the forming of a deep understanding of a
subject (which can be impossible to assess), internal motivations for achievement (Gatto,
1992). It is too easy for assessment itself to become the driver (and this has certainly
happened in many subjects under NCEA), with the encouragement of passion and individual
creativity in a subject often being sacrificed as a result (Freire, 1970).
The assumption underlying the current system - educationally, economically, and socially -
is that only with a competitively valued and marketable result is an effort worth pursuing.
It could be argued that in recent years this has become so much the case that only efforts
which succeed in the marketplace - with a clear bottom-line monetary benefit - are seen as
worthwhile (and with this kind of neo-liberal thinking the Arts usually become the first
casualty) (Eisner, 2002).
How then to approach summative assessment, and can it become a part of teaching practice
without teacher and student becoming subservient to purely external controls, always with
only a future goal in mind?
Even when we accept the necessity of summative assessment (at least under the system we
are obligated to operated under), many questions remain. How do we prevent deficit
theorising in testing, where data can be taken to justify any number of conclusions on
cohorts and individual students? What are the dangers of over-assessment, of burdening
students with an endless barrage of testing instances? And how do we ensure that
assessment data when collected is not simply left unreflected on, but instead used
The purpose of summative assessment, and the only criterion I believe on which the success

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158
of a given assessment task should be measured, is that the task accurately, reliably and
explicitly assesses the stated learning objectives, and only these specific objectives (Marsh,
2004). It quite simply should measure what has been taught, and only what has been
taught. (Rowntree, 1977).
Authenticity procedures
The NZQA describes four ways in which academic authenticity can be maintained. These
include: Actively preventing cheating by raising student consciousness, actively
preventing cheating through using well designed and administered assessment, actively
detecting cheating by staying alert for the potential for it to happen, actively detecting
cheating through exploring suspicions. (NZQA, 2014). These are important concerns and
can be adapted for the art classroom.
In the unit Art & Identity I have included two summative assessments, one an art analysis
homework assignment (introduced in Lesson 4), and the other a practical Self-Portrait
Painting Assignment (introduced in Lesson 10). Here I will discuss the second of these
Formulated as a task to be completely largely in class, allowing me to roam and help
students as they go along, this will largely eradicate any issues of authenticity. Two
possible issues of authenticity in art come from either students using tracing to draw
(which I would not have a huge problem within reason for this assessment as it is the
painting which is primarily being assessed), and students having work completed by
another person (a family member or friend at home). Seeing the work each lesson as it
progresses would enable me to track student progress and prevent this kind of thing from
taking place. Getting to know student ability as they work is the best indication of
authenticity in the art classroom. I would also ensure that students are very clear on
expectations, as the NZQA suggests, to prevent confusion as regards authenticity
Validity is concerned with the extent to which the design, timing and implementation of a
given assessment will be useful for students, and whether it accurately measures the
learning objectives taught.
At its best assessment can be an integral part of the learning process, providing a way for

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158
students to respond to what they are learning, even exercising higher order thinking in the
process, and receive valuable feedback and encouragement in their learning (McGee &
Fraser, 2012). As the New Zealand Ministry of Education explicitly states: It is important
that all assessment is used at some level of the system to improve student learning. (MOE,
2011, pg. 14). In other words: Assessment not used formatively at some level of the system
is not worth doing. (MOE, 2011, pg. 15, emphasis added). Summative assessment data will
become a source of PKE for your future teaching and for future teachers of the students
being assessed, as well as in assessing the school and a variety of demographics. These
latter methods are not without potential concerns however as discussed above.
The question of validity with regard to assessment is tied to this and to the purpose of
assessment stated above: does a given assessment task accurately, reliably and explicitly
measure the achievement of stated and specific learning objectives, without doing more
than this? To achieve this we need to ensure that the task will be useful for students
learning, enable us to help students who might be struggling, and appropriate to the
particular students. The New Zealand Curriculum makes this clear, stating that assessment
should be conducted so that it: Benefits students, involves students, supports teaching and
learning goals, is planned and communicated, is suited to the purpose, [and] is valid and
fair. (MOE, 2011, pg. 19). The methods for validity of a given assessment then will entirely
depend on the context with regards to the students, the content, the year level, and the
There are a number of ways in which the validity of an assessment can be increased. The
first of which is to ensure there are effective learning objectives and success criteria used
in class, and to explicitly utilise these in the achievement criteria of an assessment.
Adapting assessments already used by the NZQA is one way to ensure their validity. As is to
always have the assessment moderated by other teachers, both before introducing it to
students, and with student output.
With the Self-Portrait Assignment attached for example, to ensure validity I would have the
work moderated by at least one other teacher, either in a group-marking context or
separately, and be sure to always have the achievement criteria in front of us as we mark.
The work would be laid out on a table and measured against this criteria, with discussion
between teachers encouraged to reach a consensus. I would provide written feedback to
students in this process so that they have something tangible to take away for their
learning, areas to aim to improve on.

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158
The reliability of assessment implementation and marking is significant if data produced is
to be seen as accurate and is to be useful for future teaching and learning. The extent to
which a given assessment can be seen as reliable is tied to its methods being proven to be
consistent, replicable, and fair. An assessment task can only be seen as reliable if the way in
which the achievement of learning objectives is being measured is done in such a way that
the results of one student, or class, can be compared accurately with others, and even with
wider cohorts. The more reliable an assessment is, the more valuable the data will be (MOE,
The methods for increasing reliability for a given assessment will again depend on the
context. In secondary schools this could include: strict test procedures being stated and
adhered to (if it is a test we are talking about), ensuring the instructions for the assessment
are clear, repeatable, and explicit, acting consistently with each student and with each class
with regard to procedures and marking (often through moderation), and always clearly
stating expectations with regard to achievement criteria. A fair assessment is an assessment
with no surprises for students, a task they feel confident to complete or prepare for
(Thompson, 2013).
For the Self-Portrait Painting Assignment moderation would be essential to ensuring
reliability of the assessment. Individual work would be compared within a class and border
samples (the high and low artworks for each grade) would be ascertained to enable the
range of artworks to be effectively ordered in regard to their success against the
achievement criteria (which would be repeatedly referred to during this process as would
the explanatory notes). On the assessment schedule I have explicitly stated the
requirements for each achievement level, with notes, to aid reliability of the assessment.
Another teacher would moderate this cohort and any disagreement in marking would be
discussed (this is common with a subjective subject like Junior Art). Ideally this cohort
would also be moderated against another.
Part D: Formative Assessment
Formative assessment, feedback and feed-forward
As discussed with regard to PKE assessment, informal formative assessment as a way of
tracking how students are progressing should be a part of every lesson, a part of teachers

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158
daily practice. This can be done through questioning, mind-mapping ideas on the
whiteboard, holding a class discussion, the teacher roaming, taking notes on students, etc. It
can be used to link to previous lessons, to ensure that knowledge taught is knowledge
learnt (an assumption often made by teachers is that because they have taught something it
has therefore been learnt by students).
Formative assessment is integral to effective teaching practice. For it is the essence of good
teaching that one should constantly be attempting to gauge the levels of pupils learning in
order to lead them on to further development. (Kelly, 2007, pg. 147). At particular points
during a unit it can be done more formally, with work taken in, perhaps incomplete, as a
checkpoint in students learning, or short exercises or quizzes being completed on what has
been learnt. Formative assessment can be seen as formal when work is marked and data
The purpose of formative assessment is as much to benefit the teacher in their instruction
as it is to aid the student in their learning (Marsh, 2004). It is a key form of reflective
practice for teachers. As Julia Thompson (2013) points out, Every formative assessment
you give can provide valuable information to help you assess what your students know;
what they dont know; and, most important, how you can adjust instruction to help every
learner in your classroom succeed. (pg. 366).
The benefit of formative assessment, which is often in the form of a short exercise
(Thompson, 2013), is that it enables you to provide students with almost immediate
feedback on their progress, which they can efficiently feed-forward into their learning.
Without the pressures that often come with summative assessment, formative assessment is
an essential tool for gauging students progress and adjusting practice on the fly as a result.
It directly benefits learning in that it can come early in the learning cycle so students dont
continue making the same mistakes (building bad habits), and are able to proceed with
more confidence in having their knowledge confirmed (Thompson, 2013, pg. 373).
Effective feedback is key (Hawk & Hill, 2001). Thompson (2013) recommends keeping
comments brief, either orally or written, and as simple as possible. We should offer specific
comment on what students are doing well and where they need improvement. It is observed
that students tend to perform better when given no more than three items for
improvement (Thompson, 2013). It is also strongly recommended to keep track of this
feedback so it can be referred back to, and both teacher and student can see patterns of

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158
strengths and weaknesses emerging (Brookhart, 2001).
The NZ Ministry of Education explains in their position paper on assessment that it is, how
we check that learning is taking, or has taken, place so that we can decide what needs to
happen next. It looks back and it looks forward. It can play a key role in raising achievement
and improving student outcomes when undertaken effectively and appropriately and used
at all levels of the system. (MOE, 2011, pg. 12). This accurately describes the role of
formative assessment particularly. The paper goes on to detail a process of inquiry,
decision-making, adaptation, and transformation. Inquiry is to create and implement
assessment practices which produce useful data for reflection. Decision-making is to then
use this information effectively, which leads to an adaptation of teaching practice, followed
by, ideally, a transformation in achievement and student outcomes (MOE, 2011). This
process can take place within one lesson even, as the teacher changes their approach based
on gauging how students respond to teaching.
Source: MOE, 2011, pg. 13
Presented as a cycle this illustrates how formative assessment ideally works, in that the
effect of an assessment instance should be literally formative in the learning which follows,
and this should then lead to impact future inquiry or assessment opportunities and so on.

PaulStevens,May2014 ID:1075158
This is impossible without teachers establishing and maintaining a reflective practice,
supported by the school, and teachers encouraging students to have a reflective practice in
their own learning. Students need to feel empowered to take away from formative
assessment what they have learnt, what they havent, and even how they learn.
Perhaps more important than any content is to teach students how to develop effective
learning strategies to serve them for a lifetime, promoting internal motivations in learning
over the extrinsic motivations often promoted in summative assessment. Formative
assessment, with lower stakes than summative assessment, and more control for teachers, is
better able to be geared towards these goals. Students can even be included in the process
of creating assessment as well as reflecting on their own performance and learning (McGee
& Fraser, 2012).
How formative assessment will occur in my unit
As well as informal formative assessment, including through the methods detailed above
such as roaming the class to ensure understanding and engagement, there are two specific
ways in which formal formative assessment takes place in the unit Art & Identity.
As we start the unit students are provided with an Art Timeline template to add images to
and write notes on as we proceed with exploring various periods in Art History as on the
outline attached. I would have this handed in at the end of Lesson 6 to go over it for each
student and ascertain how they are doing individually. This would be a useful guide in
proceeding to see which areas needed further emphasise.
Likewise for the practical part of the unit, at the end of Lesson 14 I would have a check in for
the Self-Portrait Painting Assignment to gauge how they are proceeding and give advice to
the class and individuals going forward.
Recording of student progress
In regard to recording information based on the Art Timeline task (sample attached), I
would aim to look at students note taking so far and determine evidence of their
understanding or lack of understanding, recording how I see them progressing. I have also
included a space for comments to more specifically describe where individual students are
struggling or already strong. This would give me a clear indication of areas that may need
more emphasis as the unit continues and to see which students need individual attention.