So Much Nonsense

Grrr, I can feel a rant coming on. The reason …… there’s so much rubbish (nice, polite word) that goes around in education, it’s no wonder that parents and students get confused, then skeptical, then downright cynical!

If you rename a spelling test as ‘dictation’, does it stop being a spelling test? If you call a one-hour written paper a ‘quiz’ instead of an exam, a) does that excuse the fact that it tests nothing but memory, and b) does that mean you’re ‘progressive’ and children have no reason to get competitive or feel stress?

The latest nonsense comes in relation to formative assessment, with the great new CCE introduced to take all the burden out and solve all the problems of education – over night.

Here’s a section from a newspaper article from yesterday:

“Under the CCE, the syllabus has been divided in to two terms – each having two formative assessments(FA) and one summative assessment (SA). The two FAs carry 10% weightage each, while SA carries 20% weightage in the first term and 40% weightage in the final term.”

What utter nonsense. If something ‘ends’ or culminates in marks or percentages it is not formative in nature.

To understand better, see the following article from Utopia. This not only squashes this foolish misunderstanding of what formative assessment is not, but also provides lots of examples of how teachers can carry out effective FA in their classrooms (without any mention of finishing up with marks or final data.

Edutopia Article

So, let’s cut the nonsense and start by recogfnising FA for what it really is. Then, we might begin to see it in our classrooms and be able to appreciate its value.


2 Responses

  1. I don’t know your specific context but I don’t usually hear from people that we shoudl only use formative assessment. That would be like telling someone that they shoudl only use cooperative learning in their classes and no other type of strategy! I think that you would agree that Formative Assessment is a very important tool, but that there are times when summative assessments are appropriate.

    I definatly agree with you that if we just rename spelling tests they are still spelling test. However, if we analyze the way we assess students we can positively impact their learning. One way I have been working colleagues on this is through the use of questioning techniques. For more information you can read here:.

    • Hi Frank, I completely agree that formative assessment alone is not the answer, but what concerns me is when people are so wedded to summative assessment that they ‘pretend’ to be doing formative, when still what they’re doing is all summative.

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