My presentation was about…

The title was Graduate Attributes in High School – an early stage research. Single marks, grades and ranking scores wipe out any data about individual attributes evident in a students work, yet this system has persisted for 100 years. The use of the assessment system REVIEW in high schools intends to change the way high school students are marked with assessment criteria linked to 7 general capabilities specified in the Australian National Curriculum.

two images - on the left, a black and white picture of an old traditional classroom, on the right a colour photo of a modern day classroom

What inspired your approach?

School children committing suicide due to high stakes exams, as reported by the BBC and other media.

What was the most surprising outcome?

1. That two Sydney public high schools are committed to using the REVIEW system as part of a change in years 7, 8 & 9 using assessment criteria with visual marking sliders that also store a mark in a database. The intention is to take this approach combined with Project / Problem Based Learning (PBL) right up to HSC level as an alternative / supplement to the ATAR single mark ranking system.

2. That students as young as 10 are embracing the idea of self-assessment using the REVIEW assessment software that to date has only been used at university level.

 Darrall Thompson with teachers and Principals involved in the research
Darrall Thompson with teachers and principals involved in the research

How has it/will it benefit students?

  • They will have a reduced level of stress as the exams and tests themselves will also be marked by criteria linked to the capabilities they are intended to develop.
  • They will appreciate that they have unique capabilities that are evident in a whole range of class work and projects developing over their school years of study rather than focusing on marks.
  • They may realise that labelling each other as an A grade, B grade, or high % student is not valid as some students will show high performance in the practical capabilities, some in the creative, some in the analytical others in the communication areas etc.
  • They will get a lot of practice assessing their own work as self-assessment is built into the REVIEW software.
  • They, their parents, and their teachers will receive evidence of unique capabilities that may inform choice of subjects or career orientations

What’s the one piece of advice you would give other academics based on this experience?

Engaging students with self-assessment against criteria that you have carefully written to describe the qualities you are looking for in any particular assignment is a vital teaching and learning strategy.

Any plans for what you’ll do next?

The report to Government on this early stage research is due July 2018 titled: ‘The Integration of Capability Assessment and Reporting for Stage 4 Student Work in NSW Public Secondary Schools’ ETH16-1042, SERAP No. 2016626. The plan is then to apply for a large Government grant based on the results of this pilot study and involve a larger number of high schools.

Further information and resources

ACODE & PEARSON Highly Commended Award for Innovation in Technology Enhanced Learning – REVIEW software (10min video)

University of New South Wales staff marking efficiency (5.5min video)

Promotional video for REVIEW published on UTS YouTube channel (3min video)

Video explanation about Graduate Attributes for Students mentioning REVIEW (1.5min video)

My latest journal article on the issue for those interested in the academic basis for the REVIEW software initiative.
The citation of the paper is: Thompson D.G. (2016) ‘Marks should not be the focus of assessment— but how can change be achieved?’Journal of Learning Analytics, 3(2), 193–212.

Feature image by: Alexis Brown

  • I am sorry I did not make your presentation Darrall – REVIEW is a fabulous tool – can’t wait to understand how it is being used in secondary schools too.

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