Four Assessment Capabilities: What they are and why our children would want their teachers to have them

Assessment Learning Network, January 18, 2022

The theme for the 2021-22 Assessment Learning Network is leveraging assessment to achieve equitable access and outcomes for all students through an emphasis on assessment practices most relevant to students’ efforts to increase their own learning.

If our skillful use of assessment is the lever to support all children to become capable learners, then what are the assessment capabilities our practicing teachers must have from day one? Research colleagues Jill Willis, Bronwen Cowie, Christine Harris, and Chris DeLuca are interrogating the approaches to assessment capability in four countries—Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom— from the perspective of preservice teachers. They have identified how each country both differs and is similar in policy; they also have described four assessment capabilities they think are important. This special ALN session will feature an introspective look at the differences in assessment cultures across four countries to propose four shared assessment capabilities worth developing among our teachers.  

Questions Framing this Session 

  1. What are the differences and similarities in assessment cultures across the four countries contributing to the study? 
  2. What does research suggest related to the assessment capabilities teachers need for effective practice? 
  3. What are the implications for institutions providing preservice preparation and in-service professional learning? 
Event Resources

Presentation Video

ALN Presentation: Four Assessment Capabilities To download this video, go to

Presenter: Jill Willis

Jill Willis is an Associate Professor in Education at Queensland University of Technology (Australia). Her research investigates how learners navigate performance expectations in assessment systems, so learners of all ages can be supported to experience greater success and agency. This interest has led her to teach about assessment for learning, leadership of change, and research in areas such as assessment, learning spaces and middle leadership. Jill particularly enjoys working with teachers and school leaders who undertake higher degree learning and research.

Presenter: Bronwen Cowie

Professor Bronwen Cowie taught science, physics and mathematics in New Zealand secondary schools before moving to The University of Waikato as a researcher on the Learning in Science Project (Assessment). Her PhD is on formative assessment / assessment with a particular focus on student perceptions and experiences. She has extensive experience in classroom-based research with teachers and students using interviews, observation, the collection of student work and video as a data generation tools.

Presenter: Christine Harrison

Professor Christine Harrison is Professor in Science Education for King’s College London (England). She worked in secondary schools for 13 years before joining King’s to run the Biology Education section. Her teaching and research have centred on assessment, science education, cognitive acceleration and the use of text and TV in classrooms. Throughout all of these, she has maintained an interest in professional learning, in working collaboratively with teachers and in ensuring effective knowledge transfer.

Presenter: Chris DeLuca

Dr. DeLuca (Ph.D., Queen’s University) is an Associate Dean at the School of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in Educational Assessment at the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University (Canada). Dr. DeLuca leads the Classroom Assessment Research Team and is a director of the Queen’s Assessment and Evaluation Group. Previously, Dr. DeLuca was an Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida (Tampa, USA) and has worked in the area of policy research in London, England.

Learning Moments

ALN Session Chat: Four Assessment Capabilities

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