Friday, May 31, 2013

A totally new high school assessment strategy

It happens to most teachers around reporting-writing time sooner or later.  And as I sat the other night working my way through a pile of marking, an epiphany came upon me.  Suddenly I began to see the education system and it's faults clearly for the first time.  It's like the scales were falling from my eyes.  In this moment of absolute clarity, I conceived the framework for a whole new approach for senior education.  I look forward to it being named after me and a possible Noble Prize.  Delusions of grandeur are a common side-effect of report-writing time (coupled with despair and bad eating habits).



Here's what I thought: here is a pile of work which I will diligently mark it on its merits but I suspect if I just looked at the name on the top of each paper and guessed the mark, the outcomes wouldn't be very different.  In fact, I thought, I bet their Year 10 teachers could probably have a good guess and be pretty close to the mark.  Maybe even their Year 8 teachers.  Or Year 6!  Does all this assessment and grading really change any outcomes at all?

Hence, I would like to apply for funding to conduct a longitudinal study into this observation and its consequences.  It would have to be a lot of funding and the study would need to involve some travel and overseas conferences.  In my ground-breaking study, a large sample of students would be tracked from fourth grade until the end of high school.  At the end of Years 4, 6, 8 and 10, their teachers would be asked to guess their final university entrance rank.  We would then compare the students' final results with these estimates and be able to tell which year level was the best predictor of the final outcomes.

Now assuming it turns out to be Year 6 - which I am sure it would be because Year 6 teachers are fabulous and terribly intuitive (I know because I used to be one) - then Year 6 would become the year at which university rankings were finalised.  So up until Year 6, students would be taught and assessed in the usual manner.  Then at the end of Year 6, a final score would be decided and the student sent happily off to high school.  High school would proceed in the usual manner because there would still be much to learn and much to be gained from the high school curriculum.  However, it would be entirely free from the time-wasting activities of setting, sitting and grading assessment.  Instead, students and teachers would be free to pursue learning without the interruption of exams.  Assignments would be done in order to learn rather than to be assessed.  Teachers would be relieved of the burden of marking things that didn't matter and could put all that extra effort into amazing lessons that truly engaged the children.

Now don't spoil my Utopian vision with petty things like the value of assessment for informing teaching, the fact that primary kids would then be pushed to the absolute limits of stress as everything would come down to their performance in Year 6 or the possibility that students could actually change, grow and improve in their adolescent years.  Logic doesn't matter all that much in educational theory.  I learnt that in university.

Just let me bask for a moment in the lovely dream of no more marking ever.  Of course it would mean I could never go back and teach in Year 6 again.  Bother.  There's always a catch.

7 comments:

Tasmanian said...

I think you might need more sleep.

CardsAsGifts said...

I am sure a lot of teachers will agree with your utopian vision, especially at this time of year! Hang in there! Just think of it this way, things could be worse.... you could have been happily standing still in your bathroom, contemplating life when BANG and I mean literally BANG, your knee exploded with pain and bent in ways it should never bend and you managed to find a way to get yourself to the floor without further injury. After Xrays and an MRI you find that you have torn a chunk of cartilage from your knee and with it a piece of bone (yes a fracture) and have to have surgery on saturday to fix it. In the meantime, you are confined to bed or a wheelchair as you cannot put any weight on it and could be this way for 4 -6 weeks at least. Surely report writing is better than this? lol

Deb said...

Really??? You don't think this was my most brilliant idea ever? Okay. Point taken.

Deb said...

Oh wow! That's horrible!!! Bathrooms = dangerous places to stand obviously! Hope tomorrow's surgery goes well - I'll be praying for ya.

Gary Ware said...

http://youtu.be/0fn_vAhu_Lw

Deb said...

THAT's what I've been doing wrong!!! I've been reading EACH paper.

Karen said...

Oh what an amazing world that would be...

But I'm with Tasmanian, I think you need more sleep.