Thinking About Assessment in the Primary Years

by Dr. Sergio Pawel, Head of School

This week I had the pleasure of attending a primary division professional learning session on Tuesday afternoon. The grade-level teams presented both their tried-and-test assessment tools and some of their innovative ideas on assessing children's knowledge and understanding.

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This week I had the pleasure of attending a primary division professional learning session on Tuesday afternoon. The grade-level teams presented both their tried-and-test assessment tools and some of their innovative ideas on assessing children's knowledge and understanding.

I wish you, the parents, were sitting next to me to appreciate the richness, diversity, culturally sensitive and ingenious strategies that our primary teachers and their TAs are applying to uncover understanding, assess learning, and gauge the students’ developmental stages.

These sessions are so crucial to our teachers' professional growth and our community's collective wisdom that I can not imagine working in a school that abdicates from its responsibility of offering continuing professional development.

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I left the meeting (attended by some of us face-to-face and some of us online) confident and reassured that assessment in the primary has a purpose; it is informative, it is useful to teachers as well as to students, it guides the direction of future lessons, and it discloses new interests and passions to the students. Furthermore, the planning and development of the assessment tools I saw presented on Tuesday were evidently rigorous and fruitful. It continues to amaze me when I learn how much information teachers are capable of extracting from day-to-day interactions in a non-intrusive manner. Perhaps, the analysis of the information may bare the insights of science, but the pedagogic approaches carefully crafted by our teachers is undoubtedly an art form.