Assessments can be carried out in a multitude of different ways. Some subjects lend themselves better to paper-and-pencil assessment, others require student’s performance on stage, in a workshop or a laboratory.
There is a progression of options regarding assessment.
- The teacher decides what, when and how the assessment will be done
- The teacher asks for feedback on the assessment after the students have completed it
- The teacher makes adjustments to the assessment before using it, in collaboration with key students
- The students suggest a range of possible forms of assessments. Teacher decides
- Students suggest and decide what the assessments will be, and how they will be carried out.
In the traditional classroom, it is the teacher who decides what and how to assess the students’ knowledge and skills levels. This was most appropriate when there was a fairly homogeneous class of students. However, in the modern classroom, the spread of knowledge and skills is such that a different approach must be taken.
Formative and Summative Assessments
Teachers are responsible for giving grades at the end of term, so-called summative assessments, these are best left in the professional teacher’s hands until such time as these grades are removed from the education world.
Feedback from the teacher
The assessment area which is open for development is the formative assessment where the teacher gives feedback on what the student does and does not know, how well they can do what’s expected, and ways of learning what needs to be learned in order to meet certain grade criteria.
Feedback from students
One way of developing the formative assessments is for the teacher to ask for feedback regarding the students’ perception of the fairness and accuracy of the formative assessment. Some teachers may be concerned that they are giving away their power and responsibility. This is far from the case, it is indeed increasing responsibility, putting it where it will ultimately lie, with the students.
Teachers can make adjustments to the assessment method based on the feedback in an effort to make the assessment fair and accurate more often.
Students suggest. Teacher decides
The next level would have the student suggesting forms of formative assessment that are appropriate for them. They know quite well what their challenges are and can ask to be assessed in a way that is appropriate for them. At this level, the teacher still decides together with colleagues perhaps on the correct form of assessment.
As the students mature they can both suggest, and decide in some cases, exactly how they will be assessed. Perhaps by the teacher. Perhaps by other students. Here you can see that responsibility for assessment lies increasingly heavily with the student. This is more appropriate as students reach maturity, and are being treated as adults.
Start small, develop gradually. Move the work with the ‘assessment’ away from yourself and towards your students as they mature.