Let’s talk about grading. What is school assessment for? How can we check if our assessment method is correct? What kind of assessment and when to use? Should students know how to grade before doing the work? Can both methods of assessment be used simultaneously?
What is assessment for?
Assessment is part of teaching, it is needed by both learners and teachers. It is not a separate process – it is a process that is naturally embedded in students’ learning.
Assessment should be used to improve student learning. By using the right methods of assessment, the teacher can identify individual strengths and weaknesses of the student – and on this basis, help the student set goals for his learning as well as provide guidance for improvement. The teacher can use assessment to adapt their teaching plans and methods to make students more successful in their learning.
If the grading system used does not help the student to learn and the teacher does not help to plan the learning process correctly, then it is not appropriate.
How can we check if our way of assessing students is correct?
You can ask the assessed student if they know what they should improve in their work and if they know how to do it.
The second method is to ask myself if I know that I can go further with the students, have they mastered the material sufficiently, and if not, what should we repeat?
If, thanks to the grading system introduced, you can answer both questions – YES, it means that you are using the correct way of assessing.
What kind of assessment and when to use?
The choice of the method of assessment determines the order for the task itself and the duration of the work by students.
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If learners are in the learning process, it is helpful for them to receive real-time guidance on what they are already doing well, what not yet, how they should improve what they have done so far, and how they can develop further (formative assessment).
If the task is recommended at the end of the learning process of a given topic, the student should find out to what extent he has fulfilled the expectations set before him and whether he should repeat what he has learned to achieve success (summative assessment).
Sometimes summative assessment (by grades or credits) gives the learner information while he is still learning. Such information, e.g. in the form of a grade, contains only two possibilities for the student to draw a conclusion: I can do enough and I can go further, or I cannot and I have to come back to it.
Summative assessment does not help the student to learn, because the grade itself does not tell the student what and how to improve and change. The degree is only a signal that he should possibly continue to work on the topic.
Sometimes the first type of assessment (formative assessment with feedback) can also be used at the end of the learning process, for example when the teacher enables students to improve their work.
As you can see, the principle is: formative assessment with feedback during the learning process, and summative assessment at the end of the process is not completely rigid. The choice of assessment should be made according to the needs of the students and the teacher and appropriate to the situation.
Should students know how to grade before doing the work?
Of course! At the beginning, the teacher should announce the method of assessment and the criteria that will accompany this assessment. Therefore, the student should know before starting work what and how will be assessed.
Can both methods of assessment be used simultaneously?
This is possible but not recommended. Numerous observations and studies show that a student receiving a summative assessment (e.g. grade or points) no longer focuses on the teacher’s comment. He compares his grades with those of others and focuses on the ‘fairness’ of the teacher.
Therefore, if we want the student to improve his learning, let us judge with a comment, without giving the student a grade. If we have announced that the assessment will be summative, we should remember that it is our duty to explain to the student why he received this and no other assessment. Hence, when assessing summarily, the teacher should also have formative assessment in mind, so he then evaluates twice.
Does our law allow only formative judgments? This is entirely possible only in primary education, because in these classes there is no obligation to issue grades at the end of the year and semester, and it is even prohibited. A teacher in early school education, deciding to assess with grades, increases the amount of work (which, by the way, does not make sense) by explaining to the parents what feedback is behind the given grade, if the parents or students, of course, ask for it. With the increasing awareness of parents and the willingness to participate in their children’s education, such a request will be more and more often directed to the school.
In the upper grades, it is not possible to deviate completely from the grades as the teacher has to issue grades at the end of the year and semester. However, the school may deviate from grades during the school year.