Assessment should be a planned part of Citizenship teaching and learning. Assessment helps to set clear expectations of the standards of pupil attainment in the subject. It ensures progression in teaching and learning and helps to motivate pupils as they become partners in the assessment process. It allows pupils to be clear about strengths and weaknesses in their learning, and enables teachers to be clear about the achievements of their pupils and how their learning might be improved.
Improving learning through assessment depends on five key principles. These principles apply to all phases of Citizenship education:
1. providing effective and regular feedback to pupils
2. actively involving pupils in their own learning
3. adjusting teaching to take account of the results of assessment
4. recognising the profound influence assessment has on the motivation and self-esteem of pupils, both of which are crucial influences on learning
5. pupils being able to assess themselves and understand how to improve.
Planning for assessment in citizenship
All assessment, whether focusing on a particular aspect of learning or synthesising a view of pupils’ overall progress and should be planned from the beginning as part of teaching and learning, reflect the learning and achievements of all pupils, and take account of their range of learning styles and intelligences. Assessment should measure what we value in Citizenship (for example, showing the ability to participate in group discussions) not just those aspects that are easy to measure (for example, knowledge of facts). It should not judge the worth, personality or value of an individual pupil or their family. Assessment should support the way Citizenship is delivered in the school or setting and above all involve pupils in improving their own learning. Effective assessment should lead to an improvement in the progress and attainment of pupils and help teachers improve the quality of their teaching and provision for the subject.
Pupils as partners in assessment
Actively involving pupils is one of the key principles of effective assessment. Pupils should be involved in discussions about how their work is assessed, so that they know and can recognise the standards to aim for. Teachers and pupils need to communicate their expectations, progress and attainment. This will enable pupils to set their own targets and plan how they will achieve their learning goals. Assessing their own work and collecting evidence of their progress and achievement related to these learning goals will enable pupils to recognise, demonstrate and celebrate their achievements, know and understand what they have achieved and what they need to develop, feel confident about their progress and be rewarded for active participation in school or setting and the wider community. In summary, assessment should:
- Actively involve pupils as partners
- Involve discussions with pupils about learning objectives and desired outcomes
- Give pupils opportunities to give and receive feedback on their progress and achievements, helping them to identify what they should do next
- Give pupils opportunities to collect evidence of their achievements that are linked to the learning objectives and outcomes of the relevant activities, for example in a citizenship portfolio or in a wider record of their achievements in and beyond the school, showing evidence of progress in skills as well as knowledge and understanding
- Be ongoing and inform future learning and teaching
Further guidance is provided in the ACT briefing, 'Assessing Citizenship'.