PYP Assessments: How They Help Students Reach Their Personalised Goals

Erin Smith
Updated on
November 18, 2020

 At OWIS, our goal is to make learning fun, exciting and stress-free, encouraging students to take the initiative as they build new skills and concepts. When students take an active role in the learning process, they're empowered to achieve their goals. One of the key ways we help students reach their goals is through meaningful assessments. Here's an overview of what assessments in our Primary School look like and how they help our students accomplish their personal goals.

PYP Assessments at OWIS

Students in our Primary School (Grades 1 to 5) follow the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP). Our inquiry-based framework allows students to delve deeply into different areas of learning and apply their knowledge across different subjects, rather than learning concepts in isolation. To measure student learning, we use approaches to learning (ATLs) and the objectives outlined in the IB learner profile. Our teachers regularly check students' understanding on the themes and concepts discussed in their classes. Student learning is assessed through different means, usually assessments are either formative or summative. 

Formative Assessments

Formative assessments are on-going and somewhat informal, giving teachers the flexibility to tailor them to meet students' needs. Teachers assess reading, writing, maths and other PYP skills on a weekly basis and conduct formative assessments as:

  • Activities
  • Quizzes
  • Games
  • Experiments
  • Class discussions and debates
  • Oral and written reflections
  • Research projects

These on-going assessments are effective because students get immediate feedback on how they are doing and get to know their areas for improvement.  

Summative Assessments

Summative assessments are more formal and occur less frequently than formative assessments. These evaluations tend to be more structured so that students’ progress can be measured against the learning objectives of the course. Summative assessments are carried out at four points during the school year and they gauge students’ abilities and progress over a longer time period. These assessments are also used to report back to parents on students’ progress over the year.

At the end of Grade 5, students participate in a PYP Exhibition, which is the culmination of their PYP learning experiences. Students demonstrate understanding of skills, concepts and knowledge within their Exhibition. For their Exhibition, students design their own unit of inquiry (UOI) under the guidance of their teachers and mentors. They take ownership for their learning and prepare a presentation for their families and other members of the school community to showcase all that they have learnt during the PYP.

Students at a PYP exhibition

Benefits of PYP Assessments for students 

Traditional "textbook" assessments often prove ineffective because they are designed to rank students according to how they perform when compared to their peers or test rote knowledge in isolated contexts. Meaningful assessments, however, evaluate students' individual progress and capture the real understanding of the subject matter.

Our formative PYP assessments gauge students' overall understanding and provide on-going feedback. Formative assessments enable teachers to identify areas of improvement and devise next steps for students in their learning journey. Frequent feedback gives students an idea of their strengths and areas where they need to improve. When assessments are relevant, students are also able to reflect on their own learning and progress and feel confident that they can succeed.

How Assessments help in Personalised Learning

Assessments in the IB PYP are also effective because they are opportunities to ensure different learning styles are recognised and rewarded. Assessments are a source of information for teachers to observe and understand each student better so they can personalise their approach to cater to individual learning needs. Regular assessments provide a roadmap for teachers to work with students to come up with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Timely).

Formative assessments gives teachers an opportunity to identify where students are having difficulty in understanding a concept. The teacher can then present it in a different way to promote comprehension while accommodating different learning styles and abilities. When students see that they can improve, they're empowered to work toward their goals.

Another benefit of assessments (both summative and formative) is that they enable teachers to keep parents informed about their children's attainment and progress. Parents can then better support their children's learning.

To learn more about IB PYP assessments at OWIS and how our primary school programme facilitates learning, contact us to book a virtual tour.

About Author

Erin Smith

Senior Coordinator - Primary, PYP Senior Coordinator

Erin originally hails from Australia where she earned both her Bachelor’s Degree in Primary Teaching/Arts and a Master’s Degree in Educational Studies (major in ICT/Digital Learning) from the University of Newcastle. Erin has been in primary education for more than 10 years with experience in international schools. Prior to moving to Singapore, Erin taught students in Japan, Germany and Australia.

With extensive experience in the Primary Years Programme and as an Enrichments Specialist, Erin is thrilled to be able to share her knowledge and expertise with students at the OWIS Nanyang Campus. Erin engages her students in learning experiences that challenge thinking, heighten curiosity, and open their minds. Erin strives to help each individual student create a positive mindset, fostering their ability to become lifelong learners and incredible human beings.

Traveling is one of Erin’s favourite pastimes. Her travels have taken Erin throughout Europe, America, and Asia. Erin also enjoys physical fitness, keeping up with the latest in technology, reading fantasy novels, playing with her cat Charlie. Time with family is also important to Erin. She and her engineer husband are proud parents to two children.

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