Becoming a Teacher: Issues in Secondary Teaching

By Justin Dillon; Meg Maguire | Go to book overview

17 Making assessment work in
the classroom

Christine Harrison


Introduction

Assessment is intricately bound up in the teaching–learning cycle. When people begin to train as teachers, their personal focus is usually on their performance as a teacher, while their tutors and mentors try to refocus their attention onto the students' learning that is taking place in the classroom. As a result, assessment tends to be neglected in the early stages of teacher development and, when it suddenly looms, rather than being embedded in the developing practice, assessment is tacked on. It is not surprising, therefore, that in a recent Ofsted report on initial teacher training at secondary level, one of the main findings was that, 'Trainees' standards in professional values and practice and subject knowledge are generally good, but their assessment of pupils is usually weaker' (Ofsted 2004: 77). The report went on to outline, in more detail, trainees' strengths and weaknesses:

Most trainees structure their lessons carefully and manage classes
confidently. Trainees plan particularly well in history, ICT and RE. In
a number of subjects, including geography, design and technology,
science and English, the effectiveness of their teaching is sometimes
reduced by a rigid adherence to the three-part lesson structure at the
expense of the flexibility that could result in lessons being more varied
and stimulating. The assessment of pupils' work continues to be a
relative weakness across subjects. Pupils' work is marked regularly but
some trainees have limited skills in assessing work at examination
levels, including that associated with post-16 examinations.

(Ofsted 2004: 77)

So, it's not just a matter of knowing about assessment, you need to unravel the complexities of how assessment works in order to inform

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