Assessment informed by educational neuroscience

Assessment & reporting in secondary (EDED20486) is a Unit (subject) at CQUniversity Australia


Following are a few ideas and resources related to that - particularly resources that are publicly accessible in the State of Queensland, Australia.

Firstly, there needs to be clear alignment between: 1. Curriculum requirements, and 2. Learning experiences (including pedagogy), and 3. Assessment (see Figure 1).

The three key areas need to align: assess what is taught and teach what is required (including mandatory curriculum requirements as well as teacher/school developed), using pedagogy that is effective to do that and align assessment and curriculum. Figure 2 puts at the heart of learning and teaching the learning experiences that teachers design and implement and reflect upon (evaluate to enhance future teaching). These learning experiences are frequently compromised and 'fear-based' rather than 'approach-based' and optimal to maximise learning. While this may be unintentional by the teacher, out of habit and other contextual factors, the actual learning experiences can be much more brain-friendly and promote a rich, thriving learning environment where students truly want to learn using an 'approach-based' attitude to learning driven by their motivations and using the power of their brain to choose to learn and behave in ways that support that goal.


Figure 2: The interactive nature of pedagogy, curriculum and assessment with learning experiences

1. Curriculum in Queensland

This is developed by the QCAA (and schools/schooling authorities/teachers as relevant), and implemented by schools with significant partnership arrangements between Queensland's 1900+ schools and the QCAA. Information on syllabus development is at QCAA Syllabus development

From the QCAA in P-10 in Queensland, there is a dual curriculum at present in Queensland:

Australian Curriculum in Queensland learning areas that have been/are being rolled out, and for all other learning areas the

Queensland Curriculum that consists of three areas: The Early Years Curriculum Guidelines, the Essential Learnings and Standards Years 1-9, and the Year 10 Guidelines

As a member of the Curriculum Committee P-12 for the State of Queensland, Ken has been involved in the processes bring these in for P-10 (and Kindergarten), as well as Authority Subjects and Subject Area Syllabuses for Years 11 & 12. Ken's main interest has been in Years 11 & 12 having been appointed the the then Queensland Minister of Education in 1992 to the Governing Authority of the Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies, and as a member of the Moderation Committee at that time. Since 1992 Ken has had ongoing senior appointments for P-12 in Queensland in assessment, moderation and curriculum (see kp.cqu.edu.au).

From the QCAA for Years 11 & 12 it is:

2. Learning experiences (including pedagogy) in Queensland

This is teacher, school and schooling authority determined. The three schooling authorities in Queensland are the state schools of Education Queensland (with about 70% of the students P-12), The Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC - with about 20% of students), and the Association of Independent Schools Queensland (AISQ - with about 10% of the students). Note that most curriculum documents P-12 use a directed inquiry approach.

3. Assessments in Queensland

While we have a school based system since 1972 that in Years 11 & 12 is school-based and externally moderated, we also have some common external assessments. These include NAPLAN for Years 3, 5, 7 & 9, and the Queensland Core Skills Test (QCSTest) for Year 12. Soon we likely will have QCAA endorsed as well as QCAA set and marked assessments in Years 11 & 12 in various Authority Subjects (there is a major trial underway from 2015 following the ACER Review). Information on QCAA assessment policy P-12 is at Student assessment. Key resources from QCAA are:

Years 1-10:

Years 11 & 12:

Useful resources include:

Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority (QCAA)

- up to July 2014, QSA)


QCAA Years 1 to 10

Other resources of interest:

Years 11 & 12 Assessment Hub QCAA

Standards based assessment requires descriptors of standards for students and assessors. Those 'words on a page' gain meaning through experience of looking for evidence of standards in students' complex works. Conversations between assessors about evidence in student work develops shared understandings of standards. This enhances assessor on balance judgments of which standards the evidence in the students work most looks like (see Figure 3). As markers engage in marking their understandings of standards are refreshed - often they mark similar work year after year and so their expertise about standards is constantly refreshed.

Assessment responses
Figure 3: Standards based assessment and consensus judgment

Schooling Authorities in Queensland

Australia & international

ACACA - Australian Curriculum, Assessement and Certification Auhorities

ACACA Guidelines for Assessment Quality and Equity

Moderated evidence of student work from South Australia

Assessment by the Higher Education Authority of the U.K.

Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice - international refereed journal

Professor Royce Sadler

Inter-marker reliability studies