Tracking the journeys of schools realising assessment reform and innovation

This week, ACER's Centre for Assessment Reform and Innovation (CARI) is launching a project to share with the education community details of the processes undertaken by schools involved in assessment reform and innovation.

The Assessment Reform and Innovation Examples Project presents chronicles of schools' assessment reform experiences in web-based interactive timelines that feature recorded interviews with key staff, together with artefacts of the reform process such as meeting agendas, protocols and presentations.

The examples are anticipated to provoke and promote learning for schools embarking on assessment reform and innovation.

The experiences of two Victorian schools have been chronicled so far: Newborough East Primary School and Emmanuel College. Below, Teacher provides a snapshot of the Emmanuel College assessment reform story.

Assessment reform and innovation at Emmanuel College

It was just over a decade ago that the teaching staff at Emmanuel College set on a path to reform their practice of assessing student learning.

Principal, Christopher Stock, reports that at the centre of their work was the impassioned determination to improve learning opportunities and outcomes for all students.

Across ensuing years there have been positive outcomes related to student learning and the development of a strong whole school learning culture. The assessment reform process is ongoing, with teachers continually making refinements in response to all that they learn about their students and their assessment practice.

Which elements of the assessment reform process undertaken at Emmanuel College are key to its success?

In their chronicle, staff at Emmanuel College identify the following elements as critical to their assessment reform efforts:

Whole-school commitment: All staff are required to participate in the process, which involves being an active member of a professional learning team focused on understanding student data and improving instruction.

Culture of learning: Time, processes and resources are dedicated to promoting a culture of learning among staff. For example, time is scheduled for staff to meet together in professional learning teams to focus on reform efforts, and established protocols ensure contributions of all staff are both expected and valued.

Educational research and instructional leadership: Models of staff learning are research-based and educational research is considered integral to the work of professional learning teams. Instructional leadership is a key focus of senior staff.

Student data: Professional learning teams utilise available student data and create methods for gathering and using additional needed data. The school leadership team provides resourcing to ensure student data is managed and accessed efficiently.

Capacity building: A model of distributed leadership is implemented to value existing expertise and build capacity through the organisation.

Professional recognition and trust: Teacher expertise is recognised and valued and teachers are trusted to work on improving their practice.

Resourcing: Staff learning and instructional improvement are acknowledged to be complex, ongoing and requiring support. Appropriate resources are provided to enable this complex work to be done well.

To view further details about these elements and other aspects of Emmanuel College’s assessment reform and innovation journey visit