Perspective on Assessment

The International School of Lausanne uses assessment as an essential element for the success of the educational programme in the School. Assessment is the gathering of information about student performance. It is used as a tool to identify what students know, understand, can do and feel at different stages of their learning process. Assessment, teaching and learning are interactive and interdependent. They are embedded in engaging, authentic problems/situations that are part of the student’s real world.

Assessment is integral to all teaching and learning. It is central to the Primary Years Programme (PYP)’s goal of thoughtfully and effectively guiding children through the five essential elements of learning: the understanding of concepts, the acquisition of knowledge, the mastery of skills, the development of attitudes and the decision to take responsible action.

The PYP describes the taught curriculum as the written curriculum in action. Assessment focuses on the quality of student learning during the process of inquiry and instruction, and on the quality of the products of that learning. Assessment is integral to the taught curriculum. It is the means by which we analyse student leaning and the effectiveness of our teaching and acts as the foundation on which to base our future planning and practice. It is essential to our goal of guiding the child through the learning process.

Purpose of Assessment

The main purposes of assessment are:

  • to gather data about student learning in order to help teachers improve instruction
  • to help students understand that they are partners with parents and teachers in the learning process and to help them understand the responsibilities they need to assume in order for learning to be successful

Assessment tasks take into account different learning styles and are constructed so as to target higher level thinking skills. They focus on:

  • concepts/knowledge: the construction of meaning and understandings
  • inquiry methods:
    • processes in which students have engaged
    • skills they have developed
  • application of understanding and skills to real life situations:
    • engaging in creative, critical thinking and problem-solving
    • making choices and decisions concerning audience
    • learning to organise information in a variety of meaningful ways
    • developing high quality methods of presentation
  • reflection:
    • on learning how to learn
    • on attitudes and feelings

The details of assessment content and procedures are decided and agreed at year level with regular review.

Student learning is promoted through:

  • assessing the student’s prior knowledge and experience brought to the topic or task
  • planning the teaching and learning in order to meet individual, group and/or class needs
  • building a profile of the student’s understanding
  • engaging students in productive assessment of their own work and the work of others (age appropriate peer review)

Information regarding student learning is provided by:

  • examples of student work or performance
  • assessment based on Scope and Sequence documents, rubrics, running records and the Language Development Continuums
  • teacher observation and conferences. Student observation, reflection and anecdotal notes

Programme evaluation uses a variety of student assessments to:

  • assess students’ performance in relation to general and specific expectations of the programme
  • assess group performance in relation to other classes or groups both internally and externally
  • inform others, including students, colleagues, parents

Principles of Assessment

Effective assessment allows students to:

  • know and understand the criteria and method of assessment in advance
  • analyse their learning and understand what needs to be improved
  • demonstrate the range of their conceptual understandings, their knowledge and their skills
  • synthesise and apply their learning to show understanding in different ways
  • base their learning, where possible, on real life experiences that can lead to further questioning and problem solving
  • focus on the process of learning within units of work
  • highlight their strengths and demonstrate mastery and expertise
  • express different points of view and interpretations
  • promote self-reflection and peer evaluation

Effective assessment allows the teacher to:

  • plan collaboratively and build assessments into the learning
  • identify what is worth knowing and assessing
  • include collaboration between the student and the teacher, or among students
  • take into account different cultural contexts and different ways of learning and knowing
  • use analytical tools (e.g. rubrics using separate descriptors to assess different aspects of a piece of work) as well as holistic tools (based on an overall impression of work, rated against established criteria)
  • produce feedback that can be understood by children, parents, teachers, support services and administrators
  • identify stages of the learning and teaching process
  • plan further activities that follow up on areas of the curriculum taught
  • meet the developmental needs of individual students
  • plan further activities that address new points for inquiry

Effective assessments allow the parents to:

  • see the development of student learning
  • see continuity and progression in student learning
  • have dialogue with the teacher and support their child in the home – School relationship


We actively encourage open communication between the faculty, parents and students. In addition to the scheduled reporting periods, parents are welcome to make an appointment with the appropriate member of the teaching staff, including specialist teachers, to discuss their child’s needs. We present a variety of opportunities, both formal and informal, for parents to receive information about their child’s progress.

Reporting between parents, teachers and students will take the form of:

  • Parent/teacher conferences
    The parent/teacher conference is an opportunity for parents to make an individual appointment to discuss the way the student has settled into the class, the progression they are making and points for development. The duration of the conference is 20 minutes. The parents also have the opportunity to meet with their child’s specialist teachers. Parent/ teacher conferences will occur twice per year, in the autumn and spring.
  • Twice yearly report cards
    The first report covers the period from the beginning of the school year to end of January. The second report covers the period from February to the end of the school year. Should a student leave within these periods of reporting they will receive a copy of the report by mail, based on their attendance.

The parent also has the opportunity to meet with their child’s specialist teachers.

Erin Threlfall
Assistant Principal - IB Primary Years Programme Coordinator
Contact Ms Threlfall
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