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Mr Jonathan Heard

Mr Jonathan Heard

Australian Council for Educational Research

Communicating student learning progress: What does that mean and can it make a difference?

Traditionally in schools, the main method of communicating students’ academic performance has been the summative end-of-semester report, and the focus of much of this communication has centred on reporting achievement against year-level standards. While semester reporting largely remains established practice, the advent of new school management systems has seen schools embrace a practice known as continuous reporting. Though well-intended, early analysis would suggest that the potential benefits of this relatively new process are inconsistently understood, and reveal a confusion between progressive instalments of feedback versus feedback on student progress. Such confusion may be indicative of other gaps in the organisational knowledge in schools. For example: How is progress defined? How is progress measured? What is meant by continuous reporting of progress? Who is the audience of continuous reporting? And, importantly, what is the impact of continuous reporting?

This paper will present initial findings of a research project that is examining current policies and practices related to communicating student learning progress in Australia, including semester-based and continuous reporting. The project seeks to understand the form, function, and impact of current policies and practices, and provide an evidence-base for identifying processes for communicating student learning progress that will make a difference.

Co-presenting with Dr Hilary Hollingsworth.

About Mr Jonathan Heard

Jonathan is a research fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research in the Assessment and Reporting team. He develops test content and instructional resources for verbal reasoning, reading and critical thinking assessments. He is also a member of the Centre for Assessment Reform and Innovation (CARI) project team, which investigates alternative methods of communicating student progress in learning other than the traditional school report. Jonathan has 15 years’ experience in high school teaching, last holding a leading teacher position as the Director of Pedagogy at Balwyn High School in Melbourne, and has an interest in instructional practice, information literacy and teaching critical thinking.

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