Using annotations to inform an understanding of achievement standards

Using annotations to inform an understanding of achievement standards. Adie & Willis  Assessment Matters 6: 2014

“In practice, rather than being transparent, standards without exemplification can be quite opaque.” p.113

The article was written and based on work with year 6 & year 2 classroom teachers in Queensland, Australia.

  • Annotating exemplars prior to teaching enables better clarity of what to focus teaching on.
  • Use exemplars allows you to overcome assessment differences.
  • Annotate to develop a shared understanding for planning.
  • Create an exemplar and annotate to show aspects of importance.
  • Get students to annotate their own exemplars.
  • After discussion compare your annotations to National exemplars – reveal the variance in expectation.
  • Doing annotations as part of the process clarifies evidence for each standard.


  • Backward mapping: start with the assessment task when planning. This also helps clarify what evidence will look like.
  • Create a task which students will have to match their work to a criteria or criteria to a supplied exemplar
  • Create portfolios to guide moderations.
  • This can help when justifying decisions to parents.

Use of annotation – i.e. writing down rather than just talking – can help you focus on what to teach and learn and to identify specific examples of what you say a student can do.


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