Sunday, 20 January 2013

Are grades a true reflection of Individual Merit?

What you see in one time frame
 is not always
what is there in total!

Musing from a Google+ Post!

I was perusing the Google + posts and come across one from +Jeannie Crowley  who was sharing +Brendan Storming post about the article by +Afraj Gill .  I was intrigued how the Finnish school system has spread as an example of excellence and the sentiments behind the article.

We in the UK often hold up Finland as a great example. We talk about adopting the Finnish System of all through schools as the Holy Grail to school improvement.  However, we do not do the whole system we are possibly the most tested school system in Europe for both pupils, teachers and education providers (academies and local authorities).  

Grades are not the be and end all, we should be moving beyond the summative assessment approach and accolade awarding nature of present education.  Formative assessment,  (using the test to inform learning for the individual) application for assessing and individuals capacity to learn would ideally be greater.

n terms of capacity to learn I mean identifying areas that you are in need of greater understanding and remedying this learning gap.  In other words a two part exam one testing the initial knowledge and a second one some time in the future (1 month etc) after testing same knowledge and understanding.     

If the second takes place without any more formal teaching this gives the "striver" and dedicated learner encouragement to become a self-learner taking advantage of opportunities available to improve their understanding.  Give grades by all means of both tests, but emphasise the the improvement between the two tests and the capacity to close the learning and understanding gap.  Which is more important?

This could be a great use of Online Learning Communities for instructors/teachers/facilitators to be available so individual learners can become self-learners.  Also gives the individual control over the process.   The absence of teachers in critical phases of exam course, illness, socio-economic features of  individual students education would start to have less of an influence sinee you would be testing the innate capacity to improve IMO.  

In the UK we have a great skew towards more affluent areas producing the "best results" in league tables. On the one hand we have Ofsted drawing attention to poor standards in Primary schools
 based upon areas where socio-economic factors play a big part.  On the other hand they are criticising successful schools of coasting even though 100% of their pupils are achieving the standard
.  Focussing on the value added (where they start and where they finish) now being considered the key measure for schools in their effectiveness.  It is also argued that there is still a culture of "what can we do the kids from this background"

 (I used to teach in a school when the John Prescott Tables of deprivation for all 8554+ electoral wards were  produced. This was about 18 months into my time there and the school was in the bottom 10% of the country even though we were in Leafy Suffolk.  This still did not feature in any of our Ofsted reports as a factor in low attainment.  Bragging rights for me in this trying time of constant Her Majesty Inspectors visits,  Ofsted's bosses, was that I took the Science results as Head of Science and teaching 2/3 of the classes at Key Stage 2 from 42% before I started,  to 48% in my first year in charge then 74% Level 4 the following year.   Maths that same year was doing 29%, with all the help they had  from the local authority!   Glow of achievement moment over! )    

On a positive note, the  story of turning on the light of education has been achieved by one primary school,
 English is second language at 'best' primary
.  If only we could introduce the culture of education for improvement to the whole of England!

1 comment:

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