Nord Anglia Education
Eton School
07 May, 2024

Exploring Meaningful Ways of Assessing Students

Exploring Meaningful Ways of Assessing Students

Sylvia Karam
Academic Principal and Early Elementary Principal

Assessments help teachers measure student learning and allow students to discover where they excel and how to improve. Meaningful assessments must be connected to different types of thinking, skills, and knowledge described in the grade level or subject learning outcomes. For the last decade, a revolution regarding the purpose of assessments and what they should prioritize has emerged in the US.

Dr Elise Ecoff, Chief Education Officer for Nord Anglia Education, stated, "A focus only on things that can be measured numerically or with omnibus grades isn't enough. Grades are important to gauge academic progress, but there are so many other ways kids develop and grow."

A greater focus has been placed on competency-based education, confirming that learning should be measured by what you can do: the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that lay the foundation for success. Partnerships such as ETS-Carnegie, C-BEN (Competency-based Education Network), and the Aurora Institute have developed formative and summative assessment tools that capture student progress and offer meaningful feedback of and for learning. The C-BEN offers guidance toward quality competency-based models for education to help students grow the competencies they need for career readiness and lifelong learning. In contrast, the Aurora Institute shares best practices and evaluates K-12 personalized, competency-based education. Scoff believes these transferrable skills will allow students to succeed in all facets of their lives.

Educational institutions and organizations have identified the skills their students need to thrive in school and shared them as Learner Profiles or Profiles of Graduates. Eton recently published an updated learner profile that examines student attributes from personal, local, and global perspectives.

Knowing that Nord Anglia is at the forefront of education, we are bringing forth a skills-based development framework that identifies specific skills we want to foster in our school family, called the Six "C's." They are critical, creative, collaborative, curious, compassionate, and committed. Three strengths underpin each of these skills, and the goal is not to grade them but to encourage their development through noticing and documentation of learning.

Nurturing and strengthening these skills have been a priority at Eton for many years. The most recent parent survey results indicate that we advocate for developing our students' creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking skills. We believe that creative knowledge is deep knowledge; we understand that this type of knowledge allows for connections and flexibility, supports thinking and acting, and prepares us for new learning. Developing agency, collaboration, and compassion should be strengthened in our school through everyday practices and special projects.

A study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers in the US, published in 2019, shared that most employers believe critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork are essential for workforce performance, and college students need more practice. The World Economic Forum surveys global powerhouse companies, and they have mentioned creative thinking, analytical thinking, curiosity, and lifelong learning as essential skills to develop in applicants looking for a job in the next few years.

"I do think it's a moment," Ecoff said. "Students in school want to have opportunities to grapple with things that matter to them…they want to problem solve and take some control of their learning."

Together, ¡ let's make the Six C's happen!