New course invites school leaders to shape the future of assessments and accountability

The pandemic has caused many education jurisdictions to pause their large-scale assessment activities, which provides an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine how assessments and accountability are undertaken. A summer course presented by the Faculty of Education held in conjunction with the annual Educational Leadership Academy sponsored by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, invites school leaders and classroom teachers to reimagine assessment practices at the school and system level by looking at case studies from around the world.

J-C Couture, one of the instructors of EDU 596 : Futures of Assessment and Accountability—Implications for School Leadership along with Stephen Murgatroyd, says it’s crucial for school leaders and teachers to shape the future of the next generation of assessments.

“Despite the decades-long promises of governments and teacher organizations to build confidence in public education, assessment continues to be dominated by policy actors and technology vendors far removed from the classroom,” Couture said. “What can we do as a profession to increase our assessment literacy to explain to parents and stakeholders the appropriate use of large scale assessments.”

The course, which runs online from August 9 - 14, 2021, will feature presentations by researcher-practitioners from the North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand about developments in assessment/accountability in their respective jurisdictions, each followed by a breakout session where participants can work through the implications of the presentations for their own schools. Participants will be guided to apply foresight tools to analyze possible, preferred, probable and improbable futures and assess the direction and rate at which current policies and practices will shape the future.

Couture says the course was designed in the context of UNESCO’s 2050 Futures of Education initiative, which seeks to envision education systems that will support reaching its sustainable development goals. Participants will have the option of publishing their final papers as part of the UNESCO Futures of Education - Learning to Become initiative.

But, Couture adds, the emphasis of the course will be on equipping education professionals with applicable knowledge of promising international practices to engage with challenges of assessment and imagine innovative approaches in their own workplaces and districts.

“It’s going to be practice-oriented—‘what's this going to mean for me and my school leadership?’” Couture said. “The thread running through the course is that the future isn’t something that happens to us—we should co-create it.”

EDU 596 is an elective in the Graduate Certificate in School Leadership and can be taken as part of a graduate program or as an Open Studies student. For more information, please contact Scott Key at