Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Assessment and reporting, not more exemplars!

I notice with despair that systemically we are going through another attempt at defining what an A -E is for a variety of topics and year groups to help teachers accurately mark assessment. I wonder how long it will take "those in the know" that providing A-E definitions either is so cumbersome with detail that it is impossible to use or too vague to be of any real use.

There are good reasons why teachers have used percentage grades (and not exemplars or rubrics) historically to assist in judging grades. Percentages combined with basic teacher judgement has been the only valid tool for judging students A-E on assessments. The simple fact is that teachers gain accuracy in assessing students over many years and by teaching as many year groups as possible in their sector (primary or secondary). By watching students mature into more capable students, teachers are better able to determine the snapshot grade of students and judge what makes a student an A (in any given year) and what type of student deserves B-E or the politically incorrect and now defunct F.

The sheer breadth of the curriculum and the variety of responses by students makes the task of defining A-E for all topics in all learning areas a task that serves no real purpose. Teachers do not have the time to find and refer to these exemplars when marking nor are the exemplars accurate for a variety of socioeconomic sectors (yes, I am saying an A in a low socioeconomic area is lower than a higher socioeconomic area by reducing amounts until TEE examinations). Much of marking is viewing the material of the student, noting key issues and making a teacher judgement on where the student is positioned on a continuum. As more students are guided through to TEE (or yr 7 graduation) by a teacher, teachers get better at giving feedback to students with information that helps them reach their potential.

That is what teachers are paid for, they get better with experience and this experience (or lack of) should be valued where accurate and monitored and augmented by senior staff whilst experience is being gained.

( if we were being given EPW's with solutions for all maths NCOS then I might give a little cheer as a good use of systemic resources).

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