Giant Steps Tasmania is working with Dr Kerry Woods from Melbourne University to incorporate the Students with Additional Needs (SWANs) research, assessments and reports into the designing and implementation of Individual Education Programs.
The Students with Additional Needs research was funded by the Australian Research Council, and conducted as a collaborative endeavour between the Assessment Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), and the Centre for Advanced Assessment and Therapy Services. The purpose of the research, which began in 2007, was to design and validate measures that teachers could use to describe and monitor learning across foundational or enabling skills for children with additional needs. It adopted a strengths-based and developmental, rather than diagnostic or deficit-based, approach to describing learning in skills such as communication, literacy, interpersonal processes, personal learning (i.e., attention, memory, and executive functioning) and emotional self-management. Student reports were also linked to strategies and advice for targeted and personalised teaching. You can click the following link to read about the original Students with Additional Needs project in more detail.
Dr Woods will be working intensively with teachers to improve the quality of observation data (i.e., moderation, team-based assessment, drawing on the insights of parents, colleagues, and specialists, and incorporating information gathered through other assessments). This will also help teachers recognise the difference between a strengths- or skills-based approach to assessment, and other complementary forms of assessment that depend on norm-referenced interpretations of student ability.
Teachers will be required to complete an assessment for all of their students using the SWANs online program. Teachers will work collaboratively to analyse the generated reports and design the next stages of their students' learning in alignment with the Australian Curriculum.
Teachers will continue to explore ways to use the SWANs reports, ACARA curriculum advice, and SWANs teaching strategies as part of the individual education plan process.