Assessment is a very difficult and responsible part of the educational process. The effects of school assessment may be visible in human behavior even throughout life. It is often as a result of educational experiences that self-image full of deficits is consolidated. Beliefs such as: It’s not for me … I’m not suitable for this … they close the possibility of acquiring knowledge, skills, and willingness to develop in various areas. How to avoid it? How to make a young person leave the education system with the feeling that the world is for him? how to avoid the most common mistakes.
Checking knowledge and skills
The educational process is planning, implementation and checking the degree of achievement of goals. These goals in education are knowledge and skills. The school should also educate competences, i.e. a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes, but it is difficult to assess attitudes in terms of degree. And how to check the real beliefs of a person immersed in the system? So let’s focus on checking the knowledge and skills.
If the lesson objectives are well planned and have achievement indicators, entering a grade will be a indicator analysis. This can then also be done by the students themselves.
This is an ideal situation where the student is not surprised by the grade, the criteria were clear and easy to apply, so the student can predict the grade at the stage of completing the assignment.
Let’s say students are supposed to write an essay as part of their lesson work. Very good evaluation criteria: tripartite composition, thesis and min. three arguments, use of epithets (minimum five). The works are written by students with different educational needs and opportunities.
It is easy to read and pleasant to read. The conditions have been met, you can see the enthusiasm and literary flair. Dyslexics is quite coarse, reading, one can feel the enormous effort of this student in formulating sentences. Volume – two sides. We check the criteria: composition – there, thesis and arguments – there, epithets – there. What rating? Very good.
The work was well written. Congratulations on a good composition, well-chosen arguments and a beautifully constructed summary. You surprised me by including the context of other readings in your work. A very interesting development of thoughts. I recommend supplementary reading. Congratulations again! Excellent assessment.
A work well composed, well-chosen arguments and an interesting thesis. A thoughtful ending and originally used epithets. In subsequent works, refer to the spelling dictionary more often, it will increase the value of the work. Since the spelling was not subject to evaluation, the degree is for the content and layout of the essay. I appreciate the effort you put into this work. Rating: Very good!
The basis for determining assessment criteria are educational requirements, i.e. the way to lead the student to master the program requirements. Educational requirements are determined by operational verbs: highlights, underlines, plans, estimates, solves, deletes, etc. If we define the effects in this way, checking the knowledge is clear to both the student and his parent. For example, geometry lesson, purpose: solving problems related to solids – cylinder, cone. Criteria: students know the features of the cylinder and the cone (admissible), indicate the differences, know what formulas describe them (sufficient), apply appropriate formulas for calculations from the tasks practiced in the lesson (good), transform formulas and use them in various cylinder and cone tasks (very good). (Examples of the use of operational verbs to describe educational requirements here).
From the point of view of the student and his parent, the most important function of assessment is to diagnose progress in acquiring knowledge and skills. In order for the assessment to fulfill this role, it should be understandable for the student and his parent – this condition will be met with the use of clear assessment criteria. Teachers also use diagnostic assessments to evaluate curricula, describe competence development, and plan teaching processes. We perceive educational and social functions in terms of impact on human development (evaluation should support motivation) and shaping relations in the group (predispositions, social roles in a given group). From the point of view of the school and the managing and supervising bodies, the assessment also performs a classification function (ordering students according to the level of achievement and influencing the assessment of the school’s performance) and selective (e.g. during recruitment to schools).
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Most common grading errors
The assessment should only depend on the knowledge or skills of the student. Such objectivity can ensure that educational requirements are accurately described and applied consistently. However, the teacher is a human being and is influenced in many ways, which leads to errors in judgment. Among them:
- The halo effect, when the teacher assesses the knowledge and skills of the student through the prism of their own (or someone else’s) opinion about the student. It is close to being guided by sympathy or the lack of it (halo effect) and to the contrast error (e.g. when improving works, we first reach for those written by good and nice students, and then for the weaker ones, the first ones will be rated clearly higher, and those the second is clearly lower than the objective state).
- Managing stereotypes and prejudices – this is, for example, giving meaning to the places students occupy in the class (well-prepared in the first pews, lazy and unprepared in the last ones) or on the basis of appearance (e.g. ore is false). Hence, it is only a step to reach for penalties for the slightest offense of those from the last benches, and rewarding those from the first. As a result, exasperated by the injustice of grades, pupils at the back of the class do cause trouble, and the teacher reinforces his conviction that his initial grade was correct.
- It happens that a teacher who has been working with the class for several years initially made a thorough diagnosis and drew adequate conclusions from it, but despite the passing years, he still persists in his convictions, does not check whether those judgments are still valid.
- It is a mistake to try to diversify the grades as much as possible (including pluses, minuses, exclamation points, double minuses…), but also to limit the scale to these “safe” middle grades (to avoid problems with explaining to parents, students, and the principal).
- An invariable error of judgment is being too strict or too much
- Indulgence in judging. Students feel unfairly judged; they see that, for example, others who are objectively even weaker than them have better grades because they are taught by another teacher. It happens in such situations that the strict teacher justifies his approach with the high abilities of the class (not noticing individual students who cannot cope) or vice versa, that he explains his indulgence with the low level of knowledge and skills of the group, preventing students who are able to expand their knowledge.
A proposal to describe the requirements for the student
Preparation of educational requirements for each student can be an effective way to avoid grading errors and to ensure that students are properly assessing their progress. It may be for six months, but even better for a specific department. Creating individual plans does not mean writing twenty-something plans all at once. For students who do not have any problems, diagnosed disorders, developmental deviations or specific learning difficulties, the plans may be the same, and for the remaining students, they may take into account their individual needs and abilities, according to the documentation of psychological and pedagogical assistance.
In the era of electronic journals, sending such requirements plans to students and their parents is not very complicated and does not require additional costs on the part of the school (printing cards for everyone). The student (and his parent) knows in advance what is expected of him, he can calm his fears by working, he can assess the progress himself (and predict the degree), plan improvement. Such action of the teacher also reassures the parent, there will be less discussion about the validity of the assessment.
For the teacher, this can also be an invaluable aid in introducing students to lesson topics, goals and outcomes, as referencing their individual requirements plans will greatly simplify this. A sample educational requirements plan is attached.
To sum up
Assessing students’ progress requires the teacher’s constant attention and concentration on every aspect of the work. It is to be open and clear, so communicating educational requirements to students and their parents is necessary, as well as taking into account the specific needs of each of them. All these conditions make the assessment of knowledge and skills one of the most difficult tasks of a teacher, requiring reflection, constant training and development of competences in this area of teaching work.