Productive teaching is in line with curriculum & assessment

Design, enact & review: Three key Qs

The goal

Successful learners, confident & creative individuals and active & informed citizens

Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, MCEETYA, 2008

Three key questions reflect the processes involving identifying curriculum, developing assessment, sequencing teaching and learning, making judgments and using feedback. These draw on two key frameworks:

Look for these processes generally in the specific sector/school unit planner you are using.


Question 1

Identify what students are entitled to learn

WHAT do my learners need to understand and be able to do? (Identification of curriculum)

  • What do I need to teach? What do my students need to learn? Specifically, what are the targeted content descriptions, and which portion of the achievement standard do they need to demonstrate (noting own whole school and year level planning and general capabilities + cross-curriculum priorities)?
  • What do my students already know and what can they do in relation to this curriculum? How do I know this? (Use of feedback)
  • What other whole school and department/learning area priorities impact on what I am teaching?
  • How can I contextualise the curriculum for my students e.g. through the use of a conceptual and connected BIG question and sub-questions* that will motivate the students and drive the unit? (How will I differentiate my support for individuals and groups in relation to the BIG Q and sub-Qs: Do some learners need different questions? Where are the spaces for collaboration and negotiation with students regarding the learning context?)

* See learning ajency resource: Inquiry-based learning
** See Whole school assessment plan: P-10 overview at

Question 2

Front end assessment

HOW will my learners demonstrate what they understand and can do in relation to the targeted curriculum?

  • What is the specific assessment of learning task/s that will allow me to make a judgment regarding the quality of their performance? What assessment for and as learning tasks will I utilise to maximise student achievement?
  • What assessment task/s would engage the students? What assessment task/s would be credible, intellectually rigorous, authentic and user-friendly (‘CIAU’, QSA, n.d.)? How can I differentiate the assessment task/product, where appropriate, to respond to particular learner needs?
  • What whole school and department/learning area planning impacts on the assessment category (e.g. written, spoken/signed, performance, multimodal and visual (following QSA, 2012**) and specific text type, such as, expository text with written category or vodcast within multimodal) I use?
  • On what basis will I make judgments about the quality of student learning i.e. what valued features of the learning area will I assess? What will my task-specific standards matrix (or continua)/guide to making judgments/criteria sheet look like? (Development of assessment & Making judgments; see notes on next page.)
  • Where are the spaces for collaboration and negotiation with students regarding their assessment?

** See Whole school assessment plan: P-10 overview at

Question 3

Differentiate our teaching for student success

HOW will I support the range of learners in my class to complete assessment tasks successfully? (Sequencing teaching & learning)

  • How will I sequence the learning and teaching (e.g. using a model of inquiry*)?
  • How can I differentiate my support for the whole class, individuals and for groups (process of learning as well as the environment in which students are learning)? What data-based decisions will I make?
  • How will I ensure a balance between direct (e.g. expository) and indirect teaching (e.g. inquiry-based learning, collaborative learning and experiential learning)?
  • How will I make the learning intentions and success criteria explicit for students?
  • Which specific inquiry-based learning strategies* will I use to support active inquiry by the learners? Where are the spaces for collaboration and negotiation with students?
  • What thinking skills* and questioning framework/s* will I use to support intellectual rigour?
  • How will I use assessment information to inform future learning/teaching? How will I gather and use other feedback to improve student learning and achievement? (Use of feedback)
  • Where are the spaces for collaboration and negotiation with learners regarding the teaching/learning activities?

* See learning ajency resource: Inquiry-based learning
** See Whole school assessment plan: P-10 overview at

The purposes of assessment

Purposes of assessment: It’s all about learning

Can you locate these types of assessment in an identified unit?

Extract from QSA (2012) Standards and assessment in Prep to Year 10: Advice on Implementing the Australian Curriculum (Table 1, p. 6) Sources/activities used generally
Diagnostic assessment
Provides opportunities to use assessment to determine the nature of students’ learning difficulties as a basis for providing feedback or intervention
Assessment for learning
Enables teachers to use information about student progress to inform their teaching

  • Progressive Achievement Tests in Reading (PAT R); PAT-Maths; PAT Science
  • Tests of Reading Comprehension (TORCH) Informal/school or teacher generated
  • Checklists, running records anecdotal
Formative assessment
Focuses on monitoring to improve student learning
Assessment as learning
Enables students to reflect on and monitor their own progress to inform their future learning goals
Indirectly related to summative assessment tasks:

  • Journals recording learning challenges and successes
  • ‘Exit cards’ in relation to learning goals/success criteria (related to guide to making judgment (GTMJ))

Directly related to summative assessment tasks:

  • Self-reflection, peer and teacher feedback on progress towards completion of summative assessment tasks using GTMJ with attention on targeted text type or genre
Summative assessment
Can indicate standards achieved at particular points for reporting purposes
Assessment of learning
Assists teachers to use evidence of student learning to assess student achievement against goals or standards
  • Use of text types within whole school categories of student product: written, spoken/signed, performance, multimodal and visual
  • Student completion of assessment task, scaffolded by task sheet and GTMJ
  • Teacher judgment of student performance using A-E grades (or five-point equivalent in early years)

Key points about assessment

A couple of key points about assessment

  1. The main purpose of assessment is to support student learning so we need to use assessment for, as and of learning. The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (2008) identifies the above as required.
  2. The standards against which we are required to grade student achievement are the Australian Curriculum achievement standards. The QCAA provides a practical framework to do this.
    • Examine the QCAA standards elaborations ( for your learning area and year level (standards elaborations and template are located in the specific QCAA learning area hub under the ‘resources’ tab).
      The standards elaborations are designed to:
      —match the evidence of student learning in a folio over a reporting period to ascertain how well the student has performed against the achievement standard on a five-point scale
      —inform assessment programs and individual assessment items
      —inform the development of task-specific standards for individual assessment items
    • Use the QCAA matrix (or continua) template to develop the task-specific standards for each assessment item. The task-specific standards matrix (or continua) or ‘guide for making judgments’ shows the:
      —dimensions (understandings and skills being assessed) in the first column; and in particular
      —the valued features of specific dimension e.g. communicating in the skills dimension of the history learning area.

Practical examples

Make the learning visible!

Heatley State School's the 'road trip'
Collaborate with teaching partners to design and use a metaphor that is accessible and engaging to learners—and to teachers.

See the metaphor of the ‘road trip’ used by Heatley State School* Year 1 teachers and
students in 2014. It brings to life the curriculum, assessment and teaching/learning—and how it’s all connected!

The ‘road trip’ above shows everyone where they’ve been and where they’re going. Importantly, they know what the end of the trip looks like.

* Thanks to Heatley State School for permission to use image above.

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Design, enact & review: Three key Qs

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