Clear-Sited

By Cryan, Helen | NATE Classroom, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Clear-Sited


Cryan, Helen, NATE Classroom


Love teaching, hate assessment?

It is a taboo of education, a teacher who admits that assessment is low on their own work schedule. The reality is that this should be 'Love teaching, hate marking.' And that reality has a lot to do with hating the paper trail that goes with traditional assessments.

Unfortunately, the freedom of paper-free assessments has not been embraced by government-run websites. Assessment is high on the Ofsted agenda but the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency website has failed to produce any useful guidance on successful implementation. In its English subject area http://www.qcda.gov.Uk/4417.aspx#classroom the documents are relatively ancient with most of them being listed as 2003 or before: this is despite the claim that the site was 'last updated March 2010'. You would think that it, as the 'top hit' on a Google search, would yield some appropriate results. Logically, this site should be the first port of call, but it is a less than satisfactory destination. There are plenty of useful paper-based resources available from http://nationalstrategies.standards. dcsf.gov.uk/search/secondary/results/nav:45936 which is the second source of online assistance.

The designers of the QCDA site could learn a lot from the 'Learning and Teaching Scotland' site. The general principles of assessment are well laid out and accessible (especially for primary school teachers) at http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/assess/index.asp. Navigation is simple and logical and, for the most part, the pages are uncluttered and helpful. Cleverly, the site separates 'assessment' into three strands: 'for', 'of' and 'as' learning. A thought-provoking nugget in itself. It is straightforward and very easy to navigate around each area. There is some excellent information in the 'case study' section. Each case study takes time to read and although packed with good practise they could do with condensing. These case studies are essentially summaries of research projects and so the information is sometimes buried. It is a shame that they have not organised the findings into the same useful format that was used in the introductory pages. There are a few little gems but it really comes down to your ability to sift through everything else to find them.

Each of the major exam boards has 'assessment material' on their website--but navigation is far from easy. To get a mark scheme from AQA, by far the biggest board for English, you have to click no less than eight times: this is ridiculous even if you do know the route 'Qualifications', 'GCSE', 'English', 'English A', 'Key material', 'Question Papers and Mark schemes', 'Select a series' and then a paper. …

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