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New NSW Syllabuses

Kindergarten – Year 6 assessment strategies

NSW syllabuses and support materials promote an integrated approach to teaching, learning and assessment. The purpose of assessment is to gather valid, reliable and useful information about student learning in order to:

  • monitor student achievement in relation to outcomes
  • guide future teaching and learning opportunities
  • provide ongoing feedback to students to improve learning.

The type of assessment activity and the way evidence of learning will be gathered will vary, depending on the:

  • outcomes being assessed
  • evidence to be gathered
  • teaching and learning activity
  • context
  • students’ learning needs.

Students should be provided with opportunities to demonstrate their learning through a variety of assessment activities as part of an ongoing process. Whatever assessment strategies are used, it is important that activities are accessible to all students.

A range of assessment strategies may assist teachers to:

  • plan for and gather valid and reliable evidence of student learning
  • consider a balance between informal and formal evidence.

A range of formal and informal strategies can provide opportunities for students to demonstrate:

  • the extent of their knowledge, understanding and skills
  • their learning using a range of resources and stimulus material, including ICT.

The following strategies include observations, collaborative activities and activities of a reflective nature.

Teacher observations

Teacher observations can provide information about student achievement in relation to outcomes. Evidence may be gathered and recorded formally and informally, where:

  • informal observation and feedback occur during teaching and learning activities
  • formal observation involves planning for an opportunity to observe specific learning outcomes.

Assessment activities may include:

  • listening, viewing and response tasks (eg responses to texts including digital stories, films, television programs, podcasts, vodcasts, documentaries and conferences)
  • teacher/student discussions or conferences
  • student participation in practical activities and demonstrations
  • observation of students as they participate in and engage during learning activities, such as listening to students’ use of language and application of skills to new contexts and the integration of ICT
  • strategic questioning to determine individual level of understanding
  • student manipulation of materials to demonstrate conceptual understanding of key concepts.

When teacher observation is used for assessment purposes, evidence can be gathered about students’ ability to:

  • explain ‘how or why’
  • demonstrate their understanding of key concepts
  • use appropriate language for discussing their learning experiences
  • apply their understanding to new contexts and situations
  • communicate effectively.

Peer and self-assessment

Peer and self-assessment strategies can provide teachers with information to plan teaching and learning opportunities for students. Peer and self-assessment strategies can be formal or informal. Teachers may choose to incorporate peer and self-assessment into teaching, learning and assessment to assist students to develop a better understanding of themselves as learners. Peer and self-assessment can encourage students to reflect on their learning in relation to the outcomes, and recognise the next steps needed to improve their learning.

Peer assessment

Teachers should model the appropriate language and clarify expectations for activities that incorporate peer feedback. Feedback may be oral, written or digital, and may provide an opportunity for students to develop their social, collaborative and reflective skills. Students may provide feedback to their peers about:

  • what has been completed
  • strengths and/or what aspects have been completed well
  • suggestions to improve their work with reference to the learning and assessment intention
  • alternative strategies to complete the activity.

Self-assessment and self-evaluation

Student self-assessment can help students to identify what they know, where they need to be and how to get there in their learning. Gathering information about the way students think and reflect on their learning can provide teachers with information to inform future teaching and learning. Strengthening the skills of self-assessment may enhance the ways students interpret feedback.

Self-evaluation encourages the development of metacognitive thinking as students reflect on themselves as learners and identify their learning style and how they learn best. It also encourages students to set learning goals in relation to syllabus outcomes, identify what they have learnt and what they still need to learn, and act on feedback. Portfolios, work samples and journals, including online journals, can support the reflective process where students can set goals, reflect on their goals and monitor their learning.

Self-evaluative questions may include:

  • What will help me achieve this learning goal and why is it important to achieve this learning goal?
  • What do I already know about this topic?
  • What other information could assist me in my understanding?
  • How will I know when I achieve my learning goals?
  • What do I notice when I compare my work to earlier samples?
  • What helped me when something became difficult in learning to …?
  • What do I need help with?
  • Am I learning the best way for me? What learning strategies do I need to complete/learn this?
  • What is really making me think?
  • Did everyone stay on task in our group?
  • What is a question worth asking for next time?

Prompts for students may include:

  • Things I have learned are …
  • I need to work on …
  • My strength today was …
  • My biggest improvement is …
  • I would like to learn more about …

Assessment activities may include:

  • creating portfolios or folders of work with negotiated content and reflections on the learning processes used (eg portfolios, journals, personal goals)
  • self-assessment of progress towards achieving outcomes during a series of activities or an individual activity
  • peer evaluation of a performance
  • evaluating the contributions of individuals to a group task
  • individual goal and target setting, including the use of learning logs and journals where students track thoughts, questions, activities and any revisions made over the term
  • reflections on the learning processes used, including portfolios, learning logs, blogs and journals.

When peer and self-assessment and self-reflection are used for assessment purposes, evidence can be gathered about students’ ability to:

  • evaluate their own work and thinking, as well as the work of others
  • develop learning strategies based on their evaluation
  • critique their own work and the work of others against criteria.

Collaborative activities

Collaborative learning activities occur as a result of interaction between students engaged in the completion of a common task. Students work together, face-to-face and in or out of the classroom. They may use ICT to enable group discussion or complete collaborative tasks within their school, between schools, locally, nationally and internationally.

Assessment activities may include:

  • evaluating and challenging views through group discussions
  • cooperative group work, team assignments and investigations, including the allocation of specific roles and responsibilities
  • group-prepared presentations on a range of topics for a variety of purposes and audiences
  • group critiques/team challenges, including the use of technology to aid preparation, delivery and student accountability (eg wiki, blogs)
  • mixed-ability and differentiated group activities as appropriate
  • paired tasks (think–pair–share, brainstorming, email sharing and forums)
  • student question/answer sets, including students creating their own content in Learning Management Systems
  • student response partners, such as offering constructive feedback about student work in relation to criteria.

When collaborative activities are used for assessment purposes, evidence can be gathered about students’ ability to:

  • work cooperatively as a team
  • solve problems and make decisions with others
  • take responsibility for individual and group learning
  • think critically and creatively, and offer constructive criticism
  • demonstrate cognitive skills, such as the ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise information
  • understand the roles and responsibilities of individuals in groups, including the capacity to communicate effectively within a small group.


The following strategies include inquiry-based research and hands-on activities.

Inquiry-based research activities

Students can develop their critical and creative thinking skills when they are provided with opportunities to research, evaluate information, consider new ideas and make connections. Students can develop their research skills as they use information drawn from a range of sources, including the library, the internet, databases, spreadsheets and other digital resources. Teachers may use ICT collaboration tools (such as wikis, blogs and student moderated forum discussion) and graphic organisers to involve students in active thinking about relationships and associations.

Assessment activities may include:

  • inquiry and design (eg personal interest projects, investigations and learning contracts)
  • explanations or evaluations
  • strategic, open-ended and inquiry questioning
  • comparing and contrasting
  • written or spoken responses, which could be short or extended
  • game-based learning opportunities.

When inquiry-based research opportunities are used for assessment purposes, students may be assessed on their ability to:

  • describe a valid problem to research
  • compare information sources for accuracy and relevance
  • choose appropriate information sources and work critically with them to provide explanations and evaluations
  • analyse findings and draw valid conclusions
  • establish cause-and-effect relationships
  • assess areas for improvement or further research
  • present data and information using multimodal texts
  • select appropriate digital, oral, written and other communication forms to present the findings of their research.

Practical activities

Practical activities can provide students with opportunities to pose questions, investigate, make decisions, manipulate and make observations. Students may work individually or in groups.

Assessment activities may include:

  • discussion, debate or role play
  • participation in hypothetical scenarios
  • investigation and problem-solving activities
  • rotation of students through a range of skill-based activities
  • scriptwriting, filming and evaluating the process
  • performance evaluation and review
  • responses presented in a variety of ways and through a combination of modes
  • manipulation of materials, including ICT, to demonstrate a conceptual understanding of key ideas.

When practical activities are used for assessment purposes, students may be assessed on their ability to:

  • identify and investigate a problem
  • make and record accurate observations
  • use and construct models
  • draw valid conclusions
  • display a range of speaking and listening skills (eg prepared and impromptu oral presentations, debating)
  • use critical thinking skills to analyse data and information, to identify relationships and to draw conclusions
  • ask questions to clarify, reflect and take part in class or group discussions
  • plan and carry out a procedure or response to stimulus
  • select and use appropriate strategies, equipment and technology to convey ideas to an audience.


Presentations provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their understanding to an audience. The format may be spoken or written, multimedia or a combination of these. Presentations may be prepared or impromptu, depending on the activity requirements. Peer and self-assessment may be used in conjunction with this assessment strategy.

Assessment activities may include:

  • prepared and impromptu presentations (eg role-plays, debates, dramatic presentations)
  • presentations using ICT tools (eg preparation of a 20-second radio news bulletin, podcast, vodcast, documentary filmed on location using green-screen technology)
  • web publication of learning (eg learning blogs, student-created websites) and the use of social technologies as a platform for presenting assessment activities and/or capturing evidence of student performance
  • observation of real or simulated performances
  • storyboard reports
  • poster presentation explaining what worked and what did not
  • drawings, symbols and words to connect the ideas and relationships between concepts.

When presentations are used for assessment purposes, students may be assessed on their ability to:

  • identify, comprehend and evaluate sources
  • use appropriate terms and concepts
  • use appropriate forms to communicate their understandings
  • present their findings using a variety of media
  • combine visual and digital elements for a variety of audiences and purposes.

Collections of student work

Assessment can enhance student engagement and motivation, particularly when it provides opportunities for interaction with teachers, other students and a range of resources. Collections of student work may be reviewed at specific points in the learning process to inform future teaching and learning opportunities or as summative assessment at the conclusion of a unit of work.

Assessment activities may include:

  • diaries and journals
  • student self-reflections and evaluations
  • drafts and completed versions
  • problem-solving activities and investigations
  • composing a visual representation that emphasises a particular point of view (eg a storyboard)
  • directed reading strategies (eg cloze)
  • composing a visual representation that emphasises a particular point of view
  • research using a variety of print and multimedia, internet and electronic sources of data and information
  • pen-and-paper tests, including multiple choice, online quizzes and short response
  • written activities (eg range of text types, including reports, letters, reviews, newspaper articles, comments on an article’s perspective, student-produced overviews or summaries)
  • organising and presenting learning in a variety of ways (eg crossword, dictagloss, mind map, factopinion chart, true/false statements, fishbone, vocab bank, three-level guide)
  • open-book tests, where appropriate
  • pre-testing, mid-unit testing and post-testing.

When these strategies are used for assessment purposes, students may be assessed on their ability to:

  • use appropriate terms and concepts
  • select effective strategies
  • justify and support ideas
  • develop effective arguments
  • explain different contexts, perspectives and interpretations
  • effectively communicate their understandings
  • respond accurately to stimulus
  • sequence events
  • evaluate a range of sources, including ICT sources.


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