This week, I am observing and learning from a five-day Top Management Program for selected chancellors and university presidents of private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The leadership development program is intended to help them re-think their role in society and to change their vision and mission statements to be more 21st century in this Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA) world. Interestingly, the lectures, group discussions, and case methods are important but not as important as the frameworks being introduced through andragogy. To quote from the lead resource person and speaker from the institution, “Our traditional degree programs give you the information and you suit it according to your own needs. Now, in adult learning, you share your problems, facilitate solutions to your problems, and give you frameworks.”
This coincides beautifully with this week’s module on frameworks for the assessment of student learning. Beyond the concepts and definitions of assessment, how then do we make sense of the process of assessment? How do the different components of assessment relate to one another? How should it be carried out? As seen in many examples, there are different frameworks to explain the process but it is clear that all of them aim to help students achieve learning objectives and to continuously improve teaching practice and learning.
In fact, if we step back a bit we realize that assessment frameworks are not only applicable to assessment per se but other aspects of education. For example, using Westminster College’s (n.d.) framework, do not we, as teachers and educators, continually and internally act and assess our practice as we 1) plan and set goals for ourselves (e.g. personal, career goals), 2) engage in the practice and do teaching, 3) check and evaluate the correctness and appropriateness of our methods and pedagogy, 3) act upon the results of our self-assessment and revise/adapt/make changes in our practice, and 4) repeat the process everyday. A lot of us may already be doing it, but a framework puts a name into what we are doing and how we are doing it.
Another example beyond student learning assessment is that public schools are required to adopt and to appreciate a continuous improvement (CI) cycle in their planning and implementation of their individual Enhanced School Improvement Plan (E-SIP). This is in line with DepEd Order no. 44, s. 2015. The assess-plan-act framework in CI strives to make sure that school administrators and their School Planning Teams (SPTs) are able to assess the school’s situation with relevant, timely and necessary data; to use the evidence to plan appropriate programs and projects that are aligned to the schools’ Vision/Mission/Objectives; and to act and implement programs. Yet they do not stop at the approval and printing of their three-year E-SIP; ideally, the SPT must go through the cycle every year to make the necessary adjustments and changes in projects and programs in order to improve the quality of their education for their learners.
The point here is that the beauty of a framework of assessment (or anything for that matter) is that it provides a clear guide of an approach and process that should be followed. It is also a reflection of two things: first, an underlying belief that growth and learning in assessment can only take place if done in a cyclic manner and that a linear progression would result in a “dead end” of summative assessments with no growth; second, the underlying assumption that systems and policies are in place to support educators in carrying out the continuous assessment process from data gathering to using the results meaningfully.
As the week ends, I take note of how the educators of private HEIs being encouraged to adopt a “Blue Ocean” framework in identifying new markets in their localities and to revisit their VMOs using an Input-Process-Output-Outcome framework. I realize that the most useful things that they will be able to take home to their schools are not the readings, powerpoint presentations, handouts, and anecdotal stories but the tools and frameworks provided so that they can better inform stakeholders and lead their school. Likewise, assessment frameworks, as one important tool in teaching and school performance, should be understood and appreciated by all stakeholders – top management officials, school administrators/managers, administration, and teachers – in order to unite them towards one common goal. At this day and age, teachers and schools must be able to produce graduates with 21st century skills and competencies so that they are better prepared to deal with and to face a VUCA world.
Westminster College. (n.d.) The Assessment Cycle. Westminster College. Retrieved on 17 January 2018 from http://www.westminster.edu/academics/accreditation-assessment/cycle.cfm