The “Culture” of Assessment

Monday’s class raised a lot of interesting discussions.  What stood out to me, however, was the discussion about the “culture” of assessment in schools––that is, how teachers feel about assessment, how assessment is used, what assessment tools are used, etc.

I would describe the “culture” of assessment in the school where I did my pre-internship as being very traditional.  In the two classrooms that I taught in, there was very little variety in the assessment strategies/tools that were used––assignments/tests were used as the main form of assessment. When I taught, I tried to incorporate a variety of assessment strategies into my teaching such as My Favourite No, popsicle sticks, exit slips, journal entries, etc; however, I still ended up giving a lot of assignments and tests because that is what my co-operating teachers wanted.  In addition, I also noticed that students were rarely afforded opportunities to practice their learning before being evaluated.  For example, in one of the classrooms that I was in, the teacher would give an assignment after every new topic, and all assignments were submitted for marks.  Furthermore, once the assignments were handed in, the teacher would move on to a new topic––the assignments were never revisited.  In this sense, many of the teachers followed a one-try-to-get-it-right mentality.

Many of my classmates seemed to have similar experiences during pre-internship, as they also described the “culture” of assessment at their schools as being traditional.  Other phrases that were used to describe the “culture” of assessment were: “test-based”, or “teachers do what is easiest for them”.

To be honest, our class discussion about the “culture” of assessment in schools disturbed me.  I didn’t know a whole lot about assessment before ECS 410, but I have come to learn that, ultimately, assessment presents a valuable learning opportunity for both students and teachers.  Based on our discussion, however, it seems that practicing teachers do not view assessment as a learning opportunity; rather, they seem to view it simply as another task they are required to do and thus put little effort into it.

Ultimately, despite all this research about authentic assessment practices by assessment gurus such as Davies, Cooper, etc., it seems that we are stuck in the old way of doing things. So, what can we do, as new teachers, to change this?

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