PaCT in the post-National Standards world

By Brent Langford on August 2, 2021 in Assessment tools

PaCT, the Progress and Consistency Tool, was not readily accepted by the education sector during its early life, because of the link to National Standards.

So, how is it faring now in this post National Standards world?

The Learning Progressions Framework (LPF) and the Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) are now grouped together as the ‘Curriculum Progress Tools’. These tools are gaining in popularity. Educators use them to understand their learners' curriculum progress and achievement.

How has this come about?

Firstly, the learning progressions framework and the progress measurement scale in PaCT were designed to align with the New Zealand curriculum, and not the statements of the National Standards. So, it was a straightforward task to remove the National Standards wording and references to 'at', 'above', 'below' and 'well below' from the tool and map learning progress against curriculum levels.

Secondly, schools are finding the tools to be both purposeful and strategic. The Curriculum Progress Tools can offer a solution to gaining dependability in school data, and having reliable data benefits students in both the short and long run.

The Curriculum Progress Tools can offer a valid and reliable measure of learner progress and achievement in each of the three frameworks:

  • reading

  • writing

  • mathematics

Students in the classroom

Reference to exemplars that reveal student and teacher thinking provides ongoing professional development and strengthens curriculum awareness for teachers. Teachers interacting with these models of learning develop an understanding of the increasing sophistication demanded by the curriculum. It also gives them an insight into which areas of the curriculum students are not being provided enough opportunity to learn and practice.

This regular engagement with the frameworks gives an excellent source of ongoing self-review for teachers and leaders. It helps schools adjust their local curriculum to meet learner needs.

Often schools identify big chunks of curriculum that students are not engaging with and make adjustments to fix this. Far gentler than an external review, this internal self-review is at the classroom teacher level. When recognised, it offers a very powerful construct for teacher agency in curriculum design.

Like most tools, there are easy and hard ways to apply the Curriculum Progress Tools.

Schools who have started on one of the three frameworks for up to 12 months - before moving onto the next - are seeming to enjoy greater benefits. This deeper implementation model involves teachers growing a shared understanding of the learning progressions. They are then able to make adjustments in teacher and leader practice that can lead to increased progress for students.

Moderation is a key process to deepen teacher understanding and introduce new teachers to the tools. With the Curriculum Progress Tools, moderation is observable as a process of:

  • understanding the tool

  • understanding the progressions within the tool

  • developing a deep understanding of what to notice and recognise in student responses

Moderation of teacher judgments must recognise the knowledge and understanding a teacher has in their head, gained by ongoing observation and interaction with a student. It’s about supporting a teacher to confirm their thoughts, rather than everyone trying to make the same judgment. If judgment moderation does take place, it should only occur for the handful of ‘borderline’ students that cannot be placed quickly and easily.

This is a process of a teacher checking in with others to check their thinking. This process can sharpen understanding of the conceptual stages in the framework and raise awareness of the learning that needs to take place at each stage.

Schools who make the Curriculum Progress Tools an element of their MoE professional learning focus create a very strong longer-term context for implementation. They are supported to understand the frameworks, and to engage with them as they look to identify and meet student learning needs. The professional learning occurs in an authentic context, and benefits to students can be significant.

Manageability is key to making this tool work. Practical tips, such as placing groups of students against one aspect at a time (rather than placing an individual student against all aspects, one by one) make the tool very efficient to use. This will save the teacher's time and increase accuracy.

Also, from a pedagogical leadership perspective, creating time and space to consider the progress and achievement of students will be well-rewarded. Insights into local curriculum design and effectiveness will emerge, and strategic actions can be undertaken to grow future learning.

Are you are looking to increase the dependability of your data, or to get a clearer picture of progress and achievement? If so, a great place to start is by having a look at the Curriculum Progress Tools.

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