The BIG ISSUES in 2016


WHERE WE ARE … The need to successfully implement formative assessment practices in the classroom was identified as one of the three most pressing issues facing the NZ education system  (Education Review Office, 2012).  What is disappointing is the fact that even though the potential for formative assessment was clearly  identified by the Assessment Reform Group in 1998   and even though the work of John Hattie  identifies it as the most influential factor impacting student performance,  and even though  the principles for Formative Assessment lie at the heart of the New Zealand curriculum  STILL we are struggling to implement the principle in practice.

The situation at the start of 2016 has not improved significantly since 2012 when the report was written.  It would appear the issue is not being taken seriously or it is too hard to deal with.

WHERE WE NEED TO BE GOING ….The main reason I have created this blog site is so that in my own teaching practice, at least,  I can begin to find ways to make formative assessment work.  On those occasions where formative assessment has been implemented successfully,  it has occurred in effective learning environments where teachers have been prepared to relinquish power and share it with students  (Wiliam, 2011, Kindle locations 1109-1119).  This blog is a reflection  on my own teaching practice as I attempt to create this kind of environment and begin to embed formative assessment in my practice.   This blog will reflect on my attempts to make use of digital tools and collaborative innovation in order to facilitate more effective communication in the classroom and so make formative assessment possible.   The blog will reflect on my attempts to empower students as teachers and learners in genuine communities of practice.


WHERE WE ARE … There is no doubt that we live in a rapidly changing world where technology is developing at a furious pace and where teachers are attempting to prepare students for a future that they cannot predict   The assumption is that unless teachers embrace the change and prepare for it, they will quickly become obsolete.  Students meanwhile will simply accept the changes in their stride, adapt seamlessly and thrive in this 21st century environment.  Or will they?  Perhaps it is no coincidence that mental health issues for teenagers have increased almost at the same pace as the world has been evolving. The Feb 2015 ERO report ‘Wellbeing for Young People’s Success at Secondary School’  makes it clear that student wellbeing is a big issue in NZ.   The report points out that ‘in our complex and changing society, children and young people face an increasing number of issues that can seriously affect their wellbeing’.

MOVING FORWARD…  The report makes it clear that typical causes of teenage angst are now being compounded by ‘school worries’.  ‘Assessment Overload’ is a major problem with students  ‘experiencing a very assessment driven curriculum and assessment anxiety’.    It is very easy to infer from the report that if formative assessment practices were more widely adopted, a major cause of student stress could be alleviated.    The report summary statement makes it clear that students could  benefit from schools reviewing their assessment practices and involving students more directly in decision making  (Education Review Office, 2015b)    Embedding formative assessment practices into the classroom so that students become active participants able to take control of their destiny is certain to empower students, reduce the stress connected with being impotent  in a confusing system, and so improve student well- being.



Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Retrieved from

Education Review Office. (2012). Evaluation at a glance: Priority learners in New Zealand schools. Retrieved from

Education Review Office. (2015a). Wellbeing for young people’s success at secondary school. Retrieved from

Education Review Office. (2015b). National report summary: Wellbeing for young people’s success at secondary school.

Florez, M. T., & Sammons, P. (2013). Assessment for learning: Effects and impact. CFBT Education Trust.

Green TV. (2014, July 30). New Mega Trends [Video file]. Retrieved from

Hattie, J. (2015). Hattie ranking: Teaching effects – visible learning. Retrieved from

Ministry of education. (2011). Position paper: assessment (33828). Learning media ltd.

Pearson. (2013, April 26). Global trends: The world is changing faster than at any time in human history [Video file]. Retrieved from

Robinson, K. (2010, October 14). Changing Education Paradigms [Video file]. Retrieved from

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. (2014, July). Study finds increase in mental illness in teenagers | RANZCP. Retrieved from

Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015, April 15). Introduction to communities of practice. Retrieved from

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded formative assessment [Kindle].

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