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Student assessment strategies for teachers and tutors

As tutors and teachers we regularly assess our students, particularly when they first start with us and at the end of a designated period of time or learning sequence.

To thoroughly assess a student’s level you need to know what the student is learning – e.g. what topic in the subject (e.g. learning about 3D shapes in mathematics in grade 2) and then research what your students’ school curriculum expects by the end of the year.

At present Australian schools use the Australian Curriculum. I will provide a link at the bottom to where you can access this. By understanding the end of year level expectations first and what the student is currently learning at school, you can then ask the right questions to assess their current academic level on that topic, their strength in that area and their weaknesses.

Using the 3D shape example these two content descriptors (another name for what is listed in the Australian Curriculum) relate to shapes within the year 2 Mathematic Curriculum.

Describe and draw two-dimensional shapes, with and without digital technologies (ACMMG042)

Describe the features of three-dimensional objects (ACMMG043)

Here you can then provide a quick activity, hands on or paper based to assess knowledge. You can draw a series of 2D shapes- e.g. square, triangle, circle etc. See if the student knows these already. If not, it’s already a weakness and where learning needs to start. If they do, then move on to 3D shapes- e.g. cube, rectangular prism etc. Then work from here to understand the features (e.g. apex, sides, faces etc.)

After assessing current knowledge of the topic, the following questions will additionally help you to ascertain the student’s overall strengths and weaknesses in other areas.

These will be broken up in different age groups. It’s important to remember that progress occurs at different rates.

In addition, I will include other questions to ask in areas other than the academic, which also relate to learning. I hope you find these helpful with your students. Don’t forget the link below to the Australian curriculum for primary and high school.

Assess Student Ages 3-4

  • Can the student?
    • Say their first name
    • Engage in some group play
    • Identify the name of familiar animals
    • Name siblings etc
    • Hold a pencil/crayon etc. with a fist grip
    • Sing the alphabet song (some letters may be mixed up especially l, m, n, o ,p)
    • Count to 5

Assess Student Ages 5-7

  • Can the student?
    • Count to 20 (by end of prep), Count to 100 (by end of grade 1)
    • Understand the concepts of morning and afternoon
    • Compare objects (e.g. faster and slower, bigger and smaller etc.)
    • Hold a pencil with the tripod grip (by end of prep)
    • Socialise with other children/join activities and games with others
    • Follow a two-step direction (e.g. jump 2 times then clap your hand)
    • Draw a recognisable face with features (prep), draw a full person’s body (prep-yr2)
    • Read a simple sentence (by end of prep) e.g. I am a cat. If student doesn’t know a word are they attempting to sound it out? C-a-t
    • Know the name and most common sound of all of the 26 letters of the alphabet (by the end of prep. For this each child is individual and may grasp them all a little later than others. That’s ok. At the age of 4 most children are not ready for in depth alphabet memorisation/learning.)

Assess Student Ages 8-11

  • Can the student?
    • Read simple sentences, compound sentences and short stories to small chapter books.
    • Write at least half a page with correct punctuation and capital letters
    • Edit their own writing and add words, punctuation, capital letters
    • Complete basic addition, subtraction, some multiplication and division if previously learnt?
    • Express views and ideas on different topics e.g. Should schools make children wear hats at lunch time?

Assess Student Ages 12+

  • Can the student?
    • Engage in conversation about concrete and abstract concepts- e.g. wealth, love, harmful effects of smoking etc.
    • Write a persuasive piece of writing on a topic- e.g. should Australia still be a commonwealth country with the Queen or not? Why?
    • Engage in higher mathematics- trigonometry etc.
    • Explain how they can find an answer to something (not just Google/internet) but other sources as well.
    • Explain which websites are credible resources and which are not (e.g. not Wikipedia)
    • Work independently for an extended period of time?

There you have it. Just some questions you can ask to assess a student’s level, weakness and strengths in addition to knowing the curriculum expectations for academic work. Theresa

Knowing the curriculum expectations

Student assessment strategies for teachers and tutors
  • Scroll down the page to the blue content descriptors and expand these. They are what the student needs to know by the end of the year.
  • Once expanded you will find all of the content descriptors. Remember the two I listed above for 2D and 3D shapes? Well in this photo below you will find them in content. You can also expand them further for more details. See below photo. There you have it!
Student assessment strategies for teachers and tutors 2
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