Section 4: Gathering Evidence to Support Student Learning

The Assessment, Planning and Instruction Cycle

The primary purpose of assessment is to improve student learning. Students benefit when they clearly understand what they are expected to learn, when and how they will be assessed, and are provided with ongoing, descriptive feedback about their performance (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010, p. 6).

To maximize learning, assessment and instruction must be planned around clearly defined learning goals. Designing lessons using an assessment, planning and instruction cycle involves first identifying a learning goal using the overall curriculum expectations, and then determining what students will have to do to demonstrate their achievement of the learning goal. Once these elements have been established, appropriate teaching and learning strategies can then be selected to support students learning the concepts.

The Language of Assessment

It is important to establish a common understanding of terms used to describe assessment. The following definitions align with Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010, pp. 143–144).

Assessment: The process of gathering information that accurately reflects how well a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject or course.

Assessment for learning: The ongoing process of gathering and interpreting evidence about student learning for the purpose of determining where students are in their learning, where they need to go, and how to get them there. Teachers use the information gathered to inform planning and to provide students with descriptive feedback and coaching for improvement.

Assessment as learning: The process of helping all students develop their capacity to be independent, autonomous learners who can set individual goals, monitor their own progress, determine next steps, and reflect on their thinking and learning. Students use the information gathered to provide feedback to peers and/or to monitor their own progress in achieving learning goals through self-assessments.

Assessment of learning: The process of collecting and interpreting evidence for the purpose of summarizing learning at a given point in time, in order to make judgements about the quality of student learning on the basis of established criteria and to assign a value to represent that quality.

The Steps in the Cycle

The assessment, planning and instruction cycle involves the following steps:

  1. Select the applicable curriculum expectations. For example: B2. Apply movement strategies appropriately, demonstrating an understanding of the components of a variety of physical activities, in order to enhance their ability to participate successfully in those activities.
  2. Formulate the learning goal and co-construct success criteria with students. For example:
    • Learning Goal: We are learning to defend open space to prevent an opponent from scoring points.
    • Success Criteria: I can move and assume the ready position to receive the ball. I can move to open space and apply movement principles to receive and send the ball across the net.

    For sample learning goals and success criteria that may be used with students as a starting point to co-construct criteria related to Movement Competence, reference:

  3. Share the learning goal and success criteria with students at the outset to establish a common and shared understanding of the learning goal and success criteria as learning progresses. Post them in the gymnasium, classroom and fitness areas. Refer to them frequently. Use them with students to check in on their progress.
  4. Assess before learning to guide instruction. For a variety of assessment strategies, reference:
  5. Plan and implement instructional strategies and activities to address students’ learning needs. For a variety of instructional strategies and activities, reference:
  6. Assess during learning using a variety of strategies and tools to gather a rich sampling of data. For a variety of assessment strategies and tools, reference:
  7. Use the assessment data gathered during learning to:
    • Provide specific and timely descriptive feedback to students;
    • Guide next steps in instruction;
    • Help students monitor their progress towards achieving their learning goals; and
    • Help students set goals.
  8. Assess after learning to evaluate a student's achievement of the learning goal. For a variety of assessment strategies and tools, reference:
    • Assessment Strategies
    • Gathering Evidence Using Differentiated Structures and Strategies
    • Assessment & Evaluation Tools
    • Sample Final Performance Tasks
    • Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) Sample Unit Plans
    • Approaches to Teaching Healthy Living (Part 5)