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Features of best assessment practice - Sweden

Best practice in assessment in an inclusive primary classroom starts when the professionals and the pupils know what will be assessed and why, for whom, by whom, and how we assess. Other questions to be asked are how the assessment will be used and against what will the result be assessed. 

We have visited schools who describe their ways of working with self-assessment, both the pupils and the schools as formative assessment. Briefly, this means that the assessment is process oriented and aims at change or improvement. The methods in this kind of assessment are mostly qualitative – it’s about communication; interviews, the pupil’s portfolios, systematic documentation, learning-dialogues and knowledge-seeking alliances between teachers and school. The aim of a process-oriented assessment is to, step by step, develop the pupil’s learning. In this form of assessment the pupil and parents are seriously involved. The assessment process can be described as a dialogue whereby pupils’ develop skills. 

The teachers´ documentation and the individual planning seem to be important in these schools.

The Individual development programme (IEP) can be of great support to documentation and assessment, if it is worked out in a professional way.

Background oriented objectives for the IEP must be: 

  • Communication with pupils and parents
  • Assess the environmental adaptation
  • Clarify the education goal, national curriculum goal
  • Involve the pupil in the learning process
  • Motivate the pupil
  • Find ways to reach the goal
  • Identify needs to support learning 

The pedagogical documentation is a base for continuous assessment in the school for describing the current situation and this can be done in several ways. Assessment can also point out the teacher’s, pupil’s and parent’s views regarding the school and discover structures that influence quality. When the different kinds of documentation become ground for reflection, there will then be a pedagogical documentation. The next step is to find strategies to communicate the results of assessment. 

If assessment and evaluation is to give meaning in everyday work, then it must include questions that affect the local school’s discussion on knowledge. What should children, young people and adults learn and which abilities should they develop? Upon which fundamental values should they build their knowledge? When assessments and evaluations are based upon teachers´ own formulated questions, the questions become the inner momentum. But it must also be possible to answer the questions without methods that are too sophisticated. If the assessment and evaluation is to be seen as useful, then the school must avoid judgements where the primary purpose is that the teachers should inquire into the degree of goal achievement/measure quality in order to seek short-sighted practical solutions to complicated pedagogical problems. The teachers own search for knowledge must instead be the hub of the assessment and evaluation. 

Assessment of pedagogical activities does not involve a search for the “truth”, but instead an analysing process in which we move back and forth between different perspectives and conceivable explanatory models. With such an open process practical problems may be reformulated so that different responses become evident. If teachers jointly develop the ability to reformulate practical problems, then their own knowledge about teaching can be enhanced from a one-sided search for practical solutions for complex problems to asking questions about the problems´ actual origins.

Therefore schools and teachers in Sweden need to develop methods of working with:

  • Self-assessment
  • Knowledge-seeking alliances
  • Learning-dialogues
  • Systematic documentation
  • Communication
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