Student literacy doubles in schools that use assessment data to improve teaching

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Monday, 17 Aug 2009

For immediate release Monday 17 August 2009
Student literacy doubles in schools that use assessment data to improve teaching

Student literacy developed at more than double the expected rate in schools that used student assessment results to improve teaching practice, University of Auckland Professor of Education Helen Timperley will tell the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) annual conference today.

Professor Timperley’s research looked at 300 New Zealand schools that took part in a professional development program on how to interpret and use student assessment results over a period of two years.

Over this time, students in those schools learnt reading and writing skills at twice the rate of the national average. The benefit was strongest for low-performing students.

Professor Timperley said that while student assessment results were important, the information on its own was not enough to change teaching practice.

“Previously, the education system has assumed that if teachers had this information, they automatically would be able to use it to enhance student learning – but this is not the case,” Professor Timperley said.

“Teachers need detailed information about what students know and can do, but they also need to know how to use the information to change teaching practice.

“And school leaders need to know how to lead the kinds of change in thinking and practice that are required for teachers to use the data,” she said.

Professor Timperley’s research looked at the effect of the Literacy Professional Development Project, an evidence-based professional development program run by the NZ Ministry of Education.

The project aimed to improve student literacy by developing teacher content knowledge and teaching practice. It used assessment tools to identify the knowledge and skills students need to close the gap between what they already know and what they need to know to satisfy the requirements of the curriculum.

The ACER Research Conference 2009, on the theme Assessment and Student Learning: Collecting, interpreting and using data to inform learning, takes place in Perth from 16 to 18 August.