Tracey Butchart

Reflective Learning Diagnostics-Use Formative Assessment to Fix Acquired Deficits in Maths & Science

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Born in South Africa, Tracey Butchart started her career in 1986 teaching Maths and Science to privileged, Johannesburg teenagers by day and hard-working, adult domestic workers by night. It was this divide that inspired a mission to broaden access to Maths and Science education through overcoming learning deficits acquired in our school system and raising achievement for all. Tracey moved to Nelspruit in 1994 to set up and head the Physical Science department at Penryn College, a newly established independent school with a focus on advancing learning and teaching in the wider rural Mpumalanga region through its organisation, Penreach. Through Penreach, Tracey worked with local teachers and learners to develop scientific investigative skills to be show-cased at Expo for Young Scientists. As a member of the Expo organising committee, she became focused on alternative assessment strategies after witnessing the difficulties volunteer judges were experiencing in assessing learners’ projects. Through the development of new and innovative assessment tools, Tracey became convinced that assessment practice had the power to greatly improve teaching and learning. As a result of this, Tracey initiated and developed a software package, Rubricate PLUS, which guides teachers through the planning and design of their assessment strategies; assists in creating innovative assessment tools like rubrics, performance lists, checklists, rating scales and anecdotal records; and organises learner achievement on diagnostic matrices to inform and direct teaching practice. Through Rubricate PLUS, Tracey promotes a mind-shift from traditional assessment to formative assessment – where the learner, as an active participant in the assessment process, is metacognitively-activated to understand their own unique learning behaviours and needs, and to become independent and successful learners. Always a passionate teacher and armed with a B.Sc. Honours in Science Education, Tracey started out as a Natural and Physical Sciences subject expert and has worked for the Independent Examinations Board and the National Department of Education setting national assessment tasks. After completing a M.Ed. in Maths Education through Wits University, she now focuses on improving Maths and Science through rebuilding early conceptual gaps and sink-holes that restrict and exclude high school learners. Tracey has initiated a project called Reflective Learning which, through research-based development, provides detailed diagnostic tools to not only identify acquired learning deficits, but also to provide precise, formative feedback in order to redress these and so widen access to FET and tertiary Maths and Science studies. Tracey currently provides educational project design, planning, implementation, management and monitoring and evaluation services to a number of different governmental and non-governmental organisations while still volunteering for special teaching opportunities in order to spend time in her favourite workspace – the school classroom.

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