Recording: how do we collect and analyse the data?

Assessment strategies and tools form the basis of a comprehensive approach to assessment and represent the school’s answer to the question “How will we know what we have learned?”

The strategies are the methods or approaches that teachers use when gathering information about a student’s learning. Teachers record this information using a variety of tools, which are the instruments used to collect data.

When choosing appropriate strategies, it is important to take into consideration which tools are most applicable and relevant to that strategy. This helps to ensure that an effective assessment of the learning experience takes place. A variety of strategies and tools should be used.

Assessment Strategies and Tools

The strategies in below have been identified as central to the assessment process. They cover a broad range of approaches, from the more subjective and intuitive to the more objective and scientific. It is essential that they be seen as a package since they have been selected in order to provide a range of approaches and therefore to provide a balanced view of the student.

Assessment strategies


All students are observed often and regularly, with the teacher taking a focus varying from wide angle (for example, focusing on the whole class) to close up (for example, focusing on one student or one activity), and from non- participant (observing from without) to participant (observing from within).

Performance assessments

The assessment of goal-directed tasks with established criteria. They provide authentic and significant challenges and problems. In these tasks, there are numerous approaches to the problem and rarely only one correct response. They are usually multimodal and require the use of many skills. Audio, video and narrative records are often useful for this kind of assessment.

Process-focused assessments

Students are observed often and regularly, and the observations are recorded by noting the typical as well as non-typical behaviours, collecting multiple observations to enhance reliability, and synthesizing evidence from different contexts to increase validity. A system of note taking and record keeping is created that minimizes writing and recording time. Checklists, inventories and narrative descriptions (such as learning logs) are common methods of collecting observations.

Selected responses

Single occasion, one-dimensional exercises. Tests and quizzes are the most familiar examples of this form of assessment.

Open-ended tasks

Situations in which students are presented with a stimulus and asked to communicate an original response. The answer might be a brief written answer, a drawing, a diagram or a solution. The work, with the assessment criteria attached, could be included in a portfolio.

Assessment tools


An established set of criteria for rating students in all areas. The descriptors tell the assessor what characteristics or signs to look for in students’ work and then how to rate that work on a predetermined scale. Rubrics can be developed by students as well as by teachers.


Samples of students’ work that serve as concrete standards against which other samples are judged. Generally there is one benchmark for each achievement level in a scoring rubric. Each school is encouraged to set benchmarks that are appropriate and usable within their particular school context.


These are lists of information, data, attributes or elements that should be present. A mark scheme is a type of checklist.

Anecdotal records

Anecdotal records are brief written notes based on observations of students. “Learning stories” are focused, extended observations that can be analysed later. These records need to be systematically compiled and organized.


These are visual representations of developmental stages of learning. They show a progression of achievement or identify where a student is in a process.

Source:  Making the PYP happen: A curriculum framework for international primary education (2009)

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