Planning for Classroom Assessment in the Post-Covid Era in Newfoundland and Labrador
Challenge: There is no shortage of evidence that teachers’ assessment practices are a fundamental influence on student learning and achievement. Despite repeated calls for the integration of assessment within teaching, research continues to indicate that teachers struggle to fully harness high-quality assessment practices in the service of supporting student learning and achievement. Representing 99% of all K–12 students in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) has also identified the need to support educators’ classroom assessment learning to « provide a deeper understanding of assessment to enhance responsive teaching and learning » (NLESD, 2020, p. 21).
However, the lack of empirical data regarding the Newfoundland & Labrador assessment landscape is a critical factor negatively impacting the effectiveness and efficiency of the NLESD’s initiatives to build system-wide capacity for high-quality assessment practices across the province. To this end, senior district administrators within the NLESD recognize that, without a comprehensive understanding of the current assessment landscape, their ability to leverage existing resources to better support educators’ use of high-quality assessment practices is highly constrained. Thus, the overall purpose of this research is to provide a robust analysis of the assessment landscape across NLESD schools to inform future planning for professional learning that meets the needs of provincial educators, particularly in a post-COVID-19 context. As such, it will address the following research objectives:
1. To gather empirical data on educators’ classroom assessment practice.
2. To gather empirical data on district and school conditions that promote school improvement.
3. To map the classroom assessment landscape across the province, generating a rich understanding of the regional similarities and differences in educators’ assessment practice and learning needs.
4. To provide recommendations to the NLESD for future differentiated approaches to professional learning focused on classroom assessment practice.
Partner Organization: Newfoundland & Labrador English School District Senior leaders will be actively involved in all stages of this project including survey and interview design, participant recruitment for Phase 1 and 2, data interpretation, and knowledge mobilization activities. These leaders — Five Assistant Directors and one Associate Director of Education — represent a wealth of educational expertise and deep knowledge of NLESD schools and educators that will be harnessed to address the research objectives.
Significance: This research is of high significance to NLESD, the Department of Education, and the NL general public. First, the lack of empirical evidence regarding the assessment practices of NL classroom teachers inhibits NLESD’s efforts to develop and implement meaningful and targeted professional development initiatives to improve educational outcomes of K-12 students at a system-wide level. Second, recommendations for improving educational outcomes of K-12 students within recent high-profile provincially-mandated reports (e.g., The Big Reset, Now is the Time) have directly called for better efforts to support the learning needs of all K-12 students. Without empirical data regarding the educators’ assessment practices, it is unclear how these recommendations will be efficiently carried out by the Department of Education. Third, the dissemination of research findings to the general public through a variety of venues will support the ongoing discourse surrounding if K-12 education is a strong investment in the future for NL during the current troubling economic prospects outlined in Now is the Time.