Marking gives me the blues. It gets me down. Assigning a number to a student is not an instinctive action for me. I realise the need and all the buzzwords – monitoring, feedback, reporting, stakeholders, progress etc. It is something I find hard to do though. I see the bright kids cruise through and get a good mark. I see others struggle to even ‘pass.’ For me, its an unfortunate side of the teaching profession.
I need to make a disclaimer here. My current school has a great attitude towards assessment. It’s all about the process as well as the product. Assessment needs to inform our teaching as well as provide feedback to students and parents. I’ve previously needed to give exams to Year 5’s so all is well on the attitude to assessment front, but it remains something that in a perfect world I would avoid.
This ranting is not for naught – my point here is that when it comes to assessment design, it is important to ensure there is a fair balance between formal curriculum outcomes that you need to report on as well as the more specific objectives that frame a task and give it context. For example, we have recently conducted an investigation into measurement, using the iconic Vitruvian Man illustration as a model. Being an IB school, we have defined rubrics that apply to all assessments. These relate to skills, processes as well as knowledge and reflection: What are the fractions? How can you convert these to ratios? What is the relationship between body parts? Do your answers make sense in the context of the problem? and so on.
On top of these, we apply ACARA outcomes. After all these formal requirements, its hard to fit in things like curiosity, attitude, perseverance, commitment etc into an already packed assessment. It is these things that I value in my students, but I find it difficult at times to measure their success in these terms when there is such a focus on the formal outcomes.
This is where anecdotal records come in. Constant observations, feedback and adjustments are all part of the regular teaching cycle. I’m certainly not on a soapbox here – formal assessment is necessary, but I find it important to keep sight of personal development over the formal meeting of prescribed benchmarks.