This summer, Dr. Christopher Gareis made his second trip to Singapore to lead educators in building their assessment literacy. Dr. Gareis, an Associate Professor in Educational Leadership, was asked by the Singapore Academy of Principals (a branch of the Ministry of Education) to work directly with schools following a well-received spotlight session presentation at the 2013 Asia-Pacific Assessment Conference.
Singapore’s education system is widely regarded as one of the world’s strongest. It was the top performing nation in the latest problem solving assessment given by PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) and consistently ranks in the top five countries for performance on PISA tests in Reading, Math, and Science. Most recently, it was number one in global school rankings by OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). Yet the professional development work of Dr. Gareis was able to impact teachers’ and schools’ use of assessment within one of the most effective education systems in the world.
During his time in Singapore, Dr. Gareis worked with four different elite schools: St. Andrew’s Secondary (an all-male school over 150 years old), Anglican High School (the first Anglican school in Singapore with Chinese as a medium of instruction), Huamin Primary School (an elementary school that emphasizes providing a holistic education through integration of the visual arts), and Serangoon Junior College (a college preparatory school that focuses on character development while preparing students to thrive in the 21st century). Although each of the schools had different professional development needs, Dr. Gareis’ extensive experience in working with teachers and instructional leaders in this country allowed him to expertly prepare and deliver customized, full-day programs at each school site.
Much of the content of Dr. Gareis’ work with Singapore schools stems from the recently published second edition of Teacher-Made Assessments: How to Connect Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Learning (2015), which he co-authored with his William & Mary colleague Dr. Leslie Grant, Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership.
Back in the States, Dr. Gareis’ work is expanding to the design and development of authentic, performance-based assessments as an alternative to state standardized tests. He has become a leading expert on the topic in Virginia, working with schools, school divisions, regional consortia, and the state Department of Education. The scope of his influence on the professional practice of the field is reflected in numerous engagements as a featured speaker at state and national conferences. He has already been invited to return to Singapore next year to continue his work in developing teachers’ assessment practices in that top-performing educational system.