Bringing Student Agency into Assessment in the IB PYP


Student Agency and Inclusive Assessment

Over the years, Ive chatted about inclusive assessment as a practice that needs to become embedded within any student-led, inquiry-based classroom. This message has been spread far and wide that this is a really important part of our daily routine. The IB themselves shifted towards on-going reflection, we have student agency as all the buzz ( and hallelujah for that!), numerous educators within our community are sharing their rationale for the value that inclusive assessment brings and none of this could have come a moment too soon. Yes, its that vital.

If we consider assessment as a key element within education, then we have to reconsider the role our students play within that element.

If you'd like to catch up with my 3 part series of articles,  you can link to those here. They cover the form and function of assessment in the inquiry-based classroom, together with  strategies for developing inclusive assessment in your classroom. 

Bringing the children's voice to the forefront of feedback through guiding questions created by both students & teacher.

The main thing that we want to keep AS the main thing, is that inclusive assessment is all about involving the children in the practice of setting success criteria- monitoring progress - evidencing learning - setting goals - and co-planning next steps. This involves a whole lot of reflective thinking, conversations that produce feedback and acting upon that feedback.

Within this article, I am delighted to be sharing the voice from another of our international colleagues, Parvana Guliyeva, from @space_for_learning . Parvana is an IB PYP teacher, working in Portugal. She recently shared her knowledge of inclusive assessment, with fabulous practical strategies, on Facebook LIVE.  Please scroll down to watch the video below.

Inclusive Assessment – Recording the Evidence

Assessment in the PYP classroom has so many different looks to it. We do however, have multiple commonalties too.

  • On-going reflection through formative assessment
  • Process-based assessment
  • Concept-based assessment
  • Student & teacher reflections as part of planning.
  • End of unit reflections.
  • Summative/End of Unit Celebrations

We absolutely have to develop a practice of reflective thinking within our students before we can actually have any sort of MEANINGFUL reflection. To avoid the regurgitated reflection responses, we want to really bring clarity to the children through implicit practice, of what it means to BE reflective.

Developing reflective thinking skills is crucial when you have on-going reflection and you want it to be an authentic student -led experience.[/caption] I created my reflection journals for my students, as a quick and easy part of our routines that progressively developed their understanding of reflective thinking, how it connects to skills within our Learner Profile and finally putting it into practice authentically and meaningfully. This was SO valuable ! I mean like gold stars value! The conversations improved, the feedback flowed and the children were far more able to discern what success looked like as they evaluated formative assessments, planned for process based assessments and were able to set realistic goals with action steps planned.  You can take a look at those here. There are journals for Early Years, Grades 2-3 & also for big kids, grades 4 -6. 

In the video above, I invite you to watch a video of one of my grade 4 students reflecting on their formative assessment.

Quick, daily activities that build upon reflective thinking skills bring a greater awareness of who we are as learners.

Putting It Into Practice

Using the PLAN strategy, the children were involved in deciding what they would include within their assessment, sharing ideas for demonstrating their thinking skills ( analysing data, making connections and synthesising.)  They are, in effect, taking action for themselves and others.

  • PLAN assessment tool helps to scaffold the co-planning process.

The result was this scaffolded flow chart. I included some of the concepts within our inquiry to date and the children had to consider the connections, based on their knowledge and understanding. This could be shown in words and/or pictures.  They then explained their flow chart within their reflection.

Bringing the children's voice to the forefront of feedback through guiding questions created by both students & teacher.

Beginning with guiding questions allows the children to feel comfortable with the direction of their reflective thinking, eventually adding their own ideas into the mix. The resource above is a digital presentation that supports the children through this process of thought, gradually giving them greater independence. We want students and teachers to be working towards collaboration with deciding  how to gather and record their evidence from assessment activities.  Evidence may include:

  • teacher observations,
  • peer observations and evaluation,
  • self-evaluation
  • teacher-student conferences,
  • questioning and feedback
  • evidence of learning from your inquiry wall

Recording evidence for assessment can take a variety of forms including results from rubrics, grades, individual anecdotal notes, conversations with constructive criticism, audio/visual recordings, digital records. It should:

  • be manageable for both students and teacher ( differentiated as necessary and clearly formatted/ organised)
  • focus on particular strengths and areas for improvement
  • focus on all areas of the learner and not only the academic
  • focus on student’s progress in relation to standards/outcomes

Let's look at Parvana's strategies in the video below. Look for the following inclusive assessment strategies as you watch:

  • Co-planning success criteria
  • Differentiated strategies for self-peer assessment
  • Formative assessment opportunities for monitoring progress
  • Reflective feedback from and for the learning community
  • Evidencing learning

Inclusive assessment strategies bring the children's voice to the forefront in our #IBPYP classroom environment. It is our duty, as facilitators of their learning, to ensure that we provide them with the tools and the skills necessary to optimise this important element of their education. You can reach out to Parvana via Instagram @space_for_learning I hope this week's article was of use to you and that you are able to use some of the ideas from Parvana and I. Please do share your own tips too. I'd love to add those to our community sharing.


P.S. Did you know that I have an online course that walks you through, step-by-step, all of the elements within student-led inquiry? We go from understanding the learner all the way through planning, co-planning and inclusive assessment! You can find out more by visiting Essentials for Inquiry .And feel free to reach out with questions. I'm right here to support you. :)


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