Students can hit any target they know about and that stands still for them.”

Rick Stiggins

Assessment has been a major topic of discussion amongst teachers of all disciplines and codes in the recent months, and preparations for the new syllabuses in 2019 start to accelerate.  Sometimes it can feel that the target is constantly moving but at SCOTS PGC College we are endeavouring to ensure the target is pinned down and that the students have the skills and mastery to hit the bullseye.  We are in a unique position in that we have a plethora of teachers who have experience in external assessment environments from the UK, Victoria, New South Wales and even Singapore.  Already this is paying dividends in the planning and preparation for the coming year.

”No one can win all the time. But you’ve got to learn from all you do – both successes and failures. Always do a self-assessment.”

– Michael Sachs

Within all this excitement, trepidation and adaptation I often find myself thinking about the reasons we assess.  As I may have mentioned before, the root of the word “assessment” is from the latin “assidere”, which means “to sit beside”.  It is our undertaking, as educators, to sit beside our students, to encourage, stimulate and develop their learning.   It is true that part of it is discovery, to provide important information on how well each student is doing.  However, the true reason educational institutions assess is to enable the growth and improvement of each student.  It is to provide help and guidance on how to improve, on what the next step is and open doors and opportunities for the future.  This is why feedback is so vital and I encourage all parents and carers to check the feedback and guidance on SEQTA that is available when students assessments have been marked.  This continuous feedback also provides opportunities for parents and students to seek out individual help if required, without having to wait until a formal reporting period.  As a consequence of the College moving to a more continuous feedback model, we are reducing the number of formal written reports from 2019 onwards, focusing more on individual feedback and regular informal communications.  More information on what we are planning will be available in due course but rest assured that the focus of any change is the learning of every student at the College.

“Anyone can plot a course with a map or compass; but without a sense of who you are, you will never know if you’re already home.”

― Shannon L. Alder

The Year 10s are at the beginning of their self-assessment journey, starting to think about the big questions of “what’s next?” and “how do I get there?”  As part of this they will be choosing subjects and pathways for Year 11 and beyond as part of their Senior Education and Training (SET) planning.  There will be information events and other communication about this and the new Senior Syllabuses so please look out for those in the coming weeks.  It is important to note that is it ok if you do not know what you want to be when you grow up.  Many highly successful people did not know what to do at university and many still do not know.  What is important is to have a goal, and idea of what you may want the future to look like and take the first steps towards the horizon.  No more is this true than on Camp. Both the Year 9s and 10s will be facing the unknown in the next couple of weeks as they embark on Outward Bound adventures.  I wish them well for this essential opportunity for self-discovery and assessment.

As a consequence of the introduction of external assessment in 2019, we are starting the preparation for Year 9 and 10 by the introduction of assessment blocks that mirror the assessments the students will be experiencing in the future.  One of the most significant aspects of this assessment is that a part, or all, of the assessment will be unseen.  It is important for students to realise that they may not have seen the question before but they will have learnt the skills and knowledge to answer it.  Equally important is the welfare of students at this stressful time, please do not hesitate to contact the College if you have any concerns or queries.  The timetable for these will be available on SEQTA from Monday 28th May.  To find out more about the new Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) and the new system, an excellent resource is available from the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC), at the link below.

                Thank you for your ongoing support and good luck to all students in their upcoming assessments.

Mark Richards – Director of Learning and Innovation