Magazine article English Drama Media

Taking Shakespeare to 'Task': 'Cabined, Cribbed, Confined, Bound In': The 'New Initiative' (DCSF News Release, 10 March 2010), 'Active Shakespeare'. Back in the New GCSEs Keith Davidson Finds It's Still the Same Old Story

Magazine article English Drama Media

Taking Shakespeare to 'Task': 'Cabined, Cribbed, Confined, Bound In': The 'New Initiative' (DCSF News Release, 10 March 2010), 'Active Shakespeare'. Back in the New GCSEs Keith Davidson Finds It's Still the Same Old Story

Article excerpt

Criteria

In the new GCSE Criteria the Assessment Objectives for English are included in those for the alternative compulsory combination of English Language and English Literature. For English 'a play by Shakespeare' is required within 'a rich range of prose, poetry and drama' for the AO2 Reading objectives (40%):

* Read and understand texts, selecting material appropriate to purpose, collating from different sources and making comparisons and crossreferences as appropriate.

* Develop and sustain writers' ideas and perspectives.

* Explain and evaluate how writers use linguistic, grammatical, structural and presentational features to achieve effects and engage and influence the reader.

* Understand texts in their social, cultural and historical contexts.

--as for English Language AO3 Studying written language (35%) but without reference to literary texts. The 'linguistic' criterion (comprising of course the 'grammatical, structural and presentational features'--but ignoring the sounds of English?) is missing from the English Literature Criteria, in which 'a play by Shakespeare' is required in England, if apparently not in Wales! So, the all too familiar lack, as at all levels, of any systematic linguistic knowledge required for literary studies, and the like side-lining of literary texts in language studies.

Assessment

Shakespeare is variously assigned in the specifications to Units for external assessment or controlled assessment--a distinction that makes precious little difference on the test desk, where it might actually matter. In effect, just semantic games with the variables: internally or externally set, internally or externally assessed--or as we used to say 'marked'. However managed, all summative assessment for reporting results in terms of marks, scores, scales, levels, grades, class... with reference to pre-determined criteria, is necessarily in those terms 'controlled'. Here the marginally significant distinction is between timetabled slots and test sessions with some relative local autonomy as to time and timing, for the specially set assessment 'tasks' (dread word!).

'Controlled'

Formative assessment (Bethan Marshall et al.) is based on criteria generated collaboratively in the developmental processes of teaching and learning. (Assessment of Pupils' Progress [APP] misses the point, with dozens of pre-determined criteria for reporting 'levels'--'Making it all APPen', EDM 15). The developmental process was brought into the equation in what we fondly used to call courework, as in the original GCSE Criteria for English (1985): 'Examination by the assessment of Course Work is appropriate to English Literature in view of the variety of approaches indicated... Compared with a formal examination paper it provides wider evidence of candidates' achievement demonstrated on different occasions in samples of work covering the range of skills to be assessed. It can provide the flexibility needed to assess a wide range of ability in the subject [tiering was already on the agenda]. It is especially suitable for the assessment of wide reading since it may prove difficult to set satisfactory general questions in a final examination' ('Wormwood, wormwood'). But for 100% (!) Course Work schemes we were obliged to enter the reservation: 'Where this is the case some of the work [not then 'tasks'] to be assessed must be done under controlled conditions' (my italics). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.