Assessment around the world

Scanning the UK and the world for the best assessment practices to learn from

Across the world schools, districts, states, countries, consortia, NGOs and international bodies are rethinking assessment. 

There is a growing sense that most public examinations, especially in secondary education, don’t examine the right things.

The wider capabilities and dispositions wanted by employers such as creativity and collaborative problem solving are largely absent.

Important aspects of the development of character, resilience and social and emotional learning are missing.

Important aspects of practical and applied learning are almost entirely overlooked.

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Where is it from?

Who created it?

How is it administered?

What makes it credible?

What does it assess?

Digital badges

A global movement to enable ‘micro-credentialing’ of aspects of any capability or competence. Open Badges claim to be the world’s leading format for digital badges – verifiable and shareable, containing detailed information about the achievement and what the recipient did to earn the badge.

The Mastery Transcript Consortium

A growing network of public and private schools who are introducing a digital high school transcript that opens up opportunity for every student – from all backgrounds, locations, and schools – to have their unique strengths, abilities, interests, and histories fostered, understood and celebrated.

Digital portfolios

Widespread variety of approaches in using web pages to curate a wide range of student achievements including external testimony and validation and with reflective comments from students. It reflects their individual career and college goals and showcases examples of their academic work.

Collaborative problem-solving (PISA 2015)

PISA at the OECD is moving away from just assessing how 15 year olds perform across the world in single subjects like English, Maths and Science but are now looking at assessing a variety of learning skills and dispositions in a serious way. This is their framework for assessing how young people do in the vital skill of collaborative problem-solving.

Creative Thinking (PISA 2022)

PISA has also developed a way of measuring creative thinking which will be introduced in 2022 and will include a definition of creativity as well as skilled ways in which young people can be compared in terms of their ability to think creatively. The assessment spans written and visual, social and scientific to get a holistic picture of creativity.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Learner Profile

The IB is an assessment framework, used widely across the world, that is already going beyond judging a student by narrow academics alone. The learner profile describes a broad range of human capacities and responsibilities that go beyond academic success. The profile focuses on developing learners who are inquirers, knowledgeable thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective.

New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning (NPDL)

Canadian based NPDL works with 1300+ schools and clusters in 8 countries. Detailed learning progressions allow students and teachers to track the development of their capabilities across a range of domains that combine knowledge and skills. More and more countries across the world are attempting to measure competencies as well as knowledge.

The New York Performance Standards Consortium

A group of schools that have come together to move beyond standardised tests. ‘The Consortium’s system is based on in-depth literacy, mathematical problem-solving, application of the scientific method, social studies research, a span of mediums for exhibiting learning, and a chance for students to have a voice and proud ownership of their work.’

Assessment reform in New Zealand

Much of the energy for national reform of assessment is currently coming from not for profit organisations rather than national governments though countries like New Zealand are actively engaged in thinking about the future of assessment. And many other countries in the Far East like China and Singapore are looking to add capabilities and skills such as creativity to their current focus on academic subjects.

KIPP Character Scorecard

KIPP is a network of 240+ public charter schools in the USA. From the outset they focused on academics and tough behaviour codes but realised that when students went to college they were dropping out because they did not have the independence or resilience to persevere. So KIPP has developed a bigger focus on character development.

Character Lab

Developed by Angela Duckworth and others this came out of the work of Kipp and schools that now believe that social emotional learning has an important place alongside academics and should be developed and measured in every child. CharacterLab has provided evidence and resources including ‘playbooks’ for each of the character elements.

Critical and creative thinking: Validated online tests

Developed initially by the Australian Council for Educational Research and now by the National Foundation for Educational Research. Victoria, Australia, was the first state to test 15 year olds annually for their progress in critical and creative thinking. There are detailed scope and sequence documents for showing what the development of capabilities looks like in four key areas.

Assessment Reform in British Columbia

The Core Competencies are sets of intellectual, personal, and social and emotional proficiencies that all students need in order to engage in deep, lifelong learning. Along with literacy and numeracy foundations, they are central to British Columbia’s K-12 curriculum and assessment system and directly support students in their growth as educated citizens.

NAHT Commission on Assessment

The NAHT set up a commission on the future of assessment in 2014. This covered both formative and summative assessment and had a series of recommendations. The report also includes a set of principles for good assessment and an assessment design checklist for schools to use.

Comparative Judgement

A process where assessors compare two responses and decide which is better. Following repeated comparisons, the resulting data is statistically modelled and responses placed on a scale of relative quality. For English, for example, this might mean ranking all the pieces of writing in order of quality. This method often leads to detailed and thoughtful professional conversations and gets away from the tick box, checklist method of grading.

Seven principles for a fair and relevant exam system

An excellent blog from the IoE on key principles for making our exam system fairer and giving every child the chance to have their achievements recognised. It asks the question: what would a sensible exam system look like if we started from scratch.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

Equivalent to 50% of an A level, EPQ takes the form of either a dissertation or a musical or dramatic composition, or a report or artefact, backed up with an essay as well as a project record where you get assessed on the quality of your thinking and planning. This gives young people the chance to explore and get credit for a passion. Many believe the EPQ can be used as the basis for a more expansive curriculum.

Music grade exams

‘ABRSM is the UK’s largest music education body, one of its largest music publishers and the world’s leading provider of music exams’. Practical performance exams taken by students whenever they are ready between grade 1 and grade 8. Music is an example of a different type of exam where performance is graded, students take it when ready and everyone can pass if they meet the grade.

National Baccalaureate

A ‘universal framework for students in all educational contexts that gives recognition to the full range of their achievements and learning experiences including academic qualifications and personal development’. Assessment involves Core learning + Personal project + personal development programme.

Skills Builders framework

A consortium of organisations in the UK which have defined essential skills and developed progression frameworks for them. Great potential here for every school to use this framework to judge the wider skills of young people and to give credit for the skills that employers are looking for.

Voice 21 assessing oracy toolkit

Schools measure literacy and numeracy but not the vital speaking skills. Voice 21 and School 21 have developed methods for showing progression in oracy and giving increasing weight to this. Employers put good oral communication in their top 3 skills required of employees and students could graduate high school with a way of reflecting their proficiency in this area.

How assessing deeper learning needs different approaches

Linda Darling-Hammond helpfully describes the different kinds of assessment needed as we try and assess higher order skills. This draws attention to the way in which skills can be assessed within subjects, through portfolios and assignments or through discrete assessments. It is important to get the blend and rigour right for this to be effective.

Bedales Assessed Courses

Courses developed by the school and assessed by them assessed by with a ‘mixture of formal examinations and coursework’. Now accepted by UCAS as equivalent to GCSE.

Victoria Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) assessments

Validated on-line tests developed initially by the Australian Council for Educational Research and now by the National Foundation for Educational Research. Victoria, Australia, was the first state to test 15 year olds annually for their progress in critical and creative thinking. There are detailed scope and sequence documents for showing what the development of capabilities looks like in four key areas.

First Online Critical Thinking assessment

Callido Learning, a digital publisher for the international schools segment, launched Caliber – an online assessment tool for high schools to measure critical thinking skills. This tool allows principals, administrators, school chains and government bodies to gain visibility at all levels on the development of this core skill.

A new pedagogy by Design in Buenos Aires

St. Andrew Scots School is a school is an Argentinian bilingual school from Buenos Aires. This school transformed 3 academic spaces such as libraries into ‘Learner spaces’; large, flexible workspaces with blackened walls inviting students to express themselves using chalk. This initiative develops the craftsmanship and creativity of students.

SimScientists

The SimScientists program is comprised of a portfolio of research and development projects that focus on the roles that simulations can play in enriching science learning and assessment. This program will create formative and summative assessments and classroom reflection activities about key middle school physical science: Matter, Motion, Energy and Waves. This initiative is an innovative method of supporting and assessing students.

Indian schools adopt new assessment methods

Several private schools in India, including the Chennai Public School introduced online tests with objective type questions. Some of these questions are subjective so the student feel less pressure answering them. The tests are designed to explore new assessment methods based on learning and not on marks.

Collaborative problem solving in virtual environments

EcoMUVE is a curriculum that was developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This curriculum uses immersive virtual environments to teach middle school students about ecosystems and causal patterns. Within the environments, various students access virtual worlds simultaneously and interact with each other and computer-based agents to undertake different collaborative activities. These activities develop collaborative, leadership, technology use and problem-solving skills.

Assessing group work fairly

The Scottish Qualifications Authority is the executive non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government responsible of accrediting educational awards. They developed Collaborative Learning Assessed by Social Software (CLASS) which is a moodle installation addressing some of the barriers to assessing evidence produced through group work fairly.

The Skills Framework

The Skills Framework is co-created by Singaporean Employers, Industry Associations, Education Institutions, Unions and Government for the Singapore workforce. This framework provides key information on sector, career pathways, occupations/job roles, as well as existing and emerging skills required for the occupations/job roles. The Skills Framework aims to identify and develop the key skills needed to succeed in the workplace to enhance business competitiveness and support employment.

Happiness Curriculum

The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) an autonomous body based in New Delhi that is providing primary and elementary academic support through curriculum construction, course conduct or guidance. They launched the Happiness Curriculum which consist in a variety of games, reflective conversations, storytelling, guided practice for mindfulness, role-playing, and presentations. This curriculum is designed in way to focus on the process rather than the outcome.

Neo Alta - Towards a positive assessment system

‘Anatole France’ is a middle school located in Versailles, France. This school launched Neo Alta which is a positive assessment approach reminding students that failures are allowed and inevitable, preventing students from entering a negative spiral and be disengaged. This initiative is an innovative assessment system and contributes to the happiness and well-being of students.

My Voice

My Voice is an engagement framework designed by Achievement NZ Ltd which incorporates strengths-based philosophy and activities into existing curriculum. Through workshops, this framework encourages students to focus on their abilities rather than their weakness allowing them to understand themselves from a positive perspective. This initiative focuses and contributes to the well-being of the students.

Laser Conversations

The Midland Academies Trust is an independent charitable organisation created by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College located in Nuneaton, England. The organisation implemented Laser Conversations at their schools, which are new assessment practices based on peer-discussions between teachers to improve teaching methods. Their aim is to reduce the workload, promote active responses to assessment information and find suitable approaches to help under-performers.

The SEL Assessment Guide

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is a charitable organisation based in Chicago, Illinois. This organisation’s mission is to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning (what they call SEL) an integral part of education from preschool through high school. CASEL created the SEL assessment guide which provides several resources for teachers, principals and school chains to assess a student’s SEL.

UNICEF MENA Life Skills and Citizenship Education Framework

The Life Skills and Citizenship Education (LSCE) – Conceptual and Programmatic Framework (CPF) has been developed as part of a regional initiative in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), led by UNICEF. The LSCE Initiative brings together partners at the country, regional, and global level to support a holistic, lifelong, and rights-based approach to education in MENA.

Work Ready Now (WRN) Framework

The Education Development Center (EDC) is a global non-profit based in Waltham, Massachusetts providing solutions to improve education, health and economic opportunity. This organisation does so by designing and implementing innovative programs such as the Work Ready Now (WRN). Through modules like digital literacy or workplace behaviours, the WRN develops in students the skills and attributes needed in today’s workplace (e.g., resilience, leadership…) while also testing those with soft skills.

Habits of Mind Assessment Rubrics

The Institute of Habits of Mind is an educational non-profit organisation with the purpose of transforming schools into communities where Habits of Minds are taught and practiced. These Habits of Minds are 16 dispositions, including “thinking flexibly” or “creating, imagining and innovating” that empower creative and critical thinking while developing key capabilities needed in today’s workplace. The Habits of Mind Assessment Rubric develops and tests these dispositions in students.

Barclays LifeSkills

The Barclays LifeSkills is an educational program co-developed by Barclays that aims to help equip young people throughout the UK with the skills and attributes needed for the today’s workplace. This initiative is accessible on the program’s online platform and support a range of education roles and settings, including classrooms or job centre by providing a variety of resources including lesson plans to develop capabilities such as critical analytical thinking.