Rich, diagnostic data from nationally standardised assessments may be used to uncover new learning about pupils, helping teachers understand their needs by gradually refining and adapting their practice in response
Great teaching is underpinned by deep curriculum knowledge, rich assessment and ongoing professional learning. These three are inseparable and the new Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development gives some clear ideas about how to combine them for maximum impact in your school.
The Standard notes that professional development is at its most effective when school leaders, teachers and experts or CPD (Continuing Professional Development) providers all act in concert to create sustained learning with long-term impact for pupils.
For example, in Part 1 it asks that teachers “continually apply formative assessment to monitor progression and impact” throughout the professional development process. In the most effective professional learning, teachers are always checking “have I made a difference yet?” They do this by carefully exploring student work through observation, discussion, informal assessments and more formal assessments. At each point they ask themselves “is my professional learning having impact on this pupil’s learning?”
This ongoing, formative assessment is the key to engaging teachers in evaluating their own impact, taking charge of the process and turning them from active recipients of knowledge into active researchers and enquirers. It empowers teachers to check the depth of pupils’ curriculum knowledge, to have real impact and to adapt ideas that they hear into practical problem-solving tools and approaches.
However, it is not just teachers whose role includes the use of assessment. The new Standard asks providers to “Provide tools that help participants change their own practice and evaluate its impact” and asks school leaders to “Ensure activities are designed and evaluated in terms of their impact on teachers, pupils and their school”.
This reflects the interwoven relationship of the best CPD, where the environment and culture is set up to support sustained teacher learning, where external experts provide the right tools and where leaders, teachers and providers both support and challenge each other to play the optimal role to ensure that the ultimate beneficiaries are the young people in our schools.
Professional development programmes, consisting of a series of logically connected activities, may even be initiated by exploring high quality assessment data. For example, school leaders may provide whole school assessment data for teachers and experts to explore together, identifying new aspirations to meet or unexplored problems to solve. Rich, diagnostic data from nationally standardised assessments may be used to uncover new learning about pupils, helping teachers understand their needs by gradually refining and adapting their practice in response.
However you connect assessment and professional development, the new Standard lays down a challenge to every school, every teacher and every provider. We hope that every school can use this document to reflect and develop its practice and culture of staff learning.
David Weston is the Chief Executive of the Teacher Development and Chair of the DfE Teachers’ Professional Development Expert Group which wrote the new Standard. Find out more about the Trust at http://TDTrust.org, follow David on Twitter at @informed_edu and download the new standard at http://gov.uk/government/publications/standard-for-teachers-professional-development