How to assess in the PYP:
Strategies to assess process over product
Toddle
4 min read
+
Use this template to plan an authentic assessment
Download now
Please rectify the errors in your form

How we assess in the PYP classroom can feel daunting at first! This section is broken into several parts that will support you along your journey of becoming an assessment capable practitioner.

In this section we will:

  • Explain the 4 types of assessment
  • Address the summative-assessment elephant in the classroom 
  • Breakdown what assessment looks like in the classroom with actionable strategies

If we had to summarize the assessment in the PYP in one phrase, it would be process over product.

Rather than focus on what students make or do at the end, how can we shift our focus towards evidencing the learning journey? Think of assessment like storytelling. How will you show a clear picture of where students began, what shifted or grew their thinking, and the challenges and successes they faced along the way?

By thinking of assessment in this way, it truly becomes a shared reflective process for moving the learning forward.

Jay McTighe refers to this assessment process as creating an assessment photo album rather than a snapshot.

The 4 types of assessment

Principles to Practice outlines 4 types of assessment and visually shows us where we should spend the majority of our time as assessors. We have moved away from the terms formative and summative assessments and towards the four types of assessment outlined in the model below. 

Assessments should all be integrated and flow together rather than being thought of as separate elements, as shown in the image below.

 Click on each type of assessment to read more about it!

Monitoring
learning
Documenting
learning
Measuring
learning
Reporting
on learning
Monitoring and Documenting
+
As you can see, the majority of your assessments fall under this category. We like to group them together. You can thinking of monitoring and documenting like a traditional formative assessment.
Monitoring: Quick check in to see student progress compared to the goals they have set for themselves.
Documenting: Capturing the learning journey. Evidencing what has happened to shift and grow thinking along the way.
Documenting learning
+
As you can see, the majority of your assessments fall under this category. We like to group them together. You can thinking of monitoring and documenting like a traditional formative assessment.
Monitoring: Quick check in to see student progress compared to the goals they have set for themselves.
Documenting: Capturing the learning journey. Evidencing what has happened to shift and grow thinking along the way.
Measuring learning
+
Done periodically, measurement assessments provide a snapshot of what students are capable or not capable of doing compared to a class goal or set of success criteria. These could be more traditional tests or quizzes, projects, or reflections.
Reporting on learning
+
Reporting is when we share the learning with the larger learning community. It might look like conferences, formal reports, or shared presentations and performances.

This is a common misconception from the PYP documentation.

You absolutely CAN still do summative assessments. Having students design, create, perform, and share their learning is a joyous part of being an IB teacher.

However, these assessments should not drive the bus and should be relevant to the learning. They should be one piece of the assessment puzzle and be seen more as one opportunity (among many) to document the learning!

That being said, you don’t HAVE TO. It is perfectly acceptable to have students curate a collection of their work to showcase learning. Again, we are focused on process over product.

What does assessment look like in your classroom?

Before a unit begins

We should go through a process of selecting and unpacking the standards we wish to address in the unit. These should be expressed clearly as what students will know, understand, and be able to do.

Look back at Part-2: What do We Assess for more clarity surrounding this process.

Throughout the unit

You will go through this cycle many times through the course of the unit. To start, identify the knowledge, skill, or understanding you will be focusing on.

Measure current understandings and needs: Think of this like a pre-assessment. You are finding out about students’ prior knowledge- Where are students currently at and how does that connect to the goals you have set for the unit?

Set Individual Goals: Next, engage in a process of goal setting. Based on your data, these may be class-wide goals or differentiated based on the needs arising in your class. In this stage you can think about both remediation and extension. Where are students going?

Monitor and Document: Throughout the unit, collect evidence of challenges and growth connected to goals. What shifted thinking or proved to be difficult? How can you provide a photo album of evidence that shows the learning journey? How are we getting there?

At the end/when appropriate

Reporting: When appropriate, how will you share the learning journey with the learning community? This is a great time to think about all stakeholders. How might families and the greater school community come together to engage with the learning process?

Check out this video for a guided look at this cycle:

Please rectify the errors in your form