Saturday, May 20, 2006

The new "plain English" report cards and formative assessment

The former federal minister for education, Brendan Nelson, wanted schools across the nation to give students A to E grades on their performance in all subjects. The Victorian government's adaptation of the new system has taken this to the extreme - extreme folly, that is. Students will receive A-E grades on the following "dimensions" of Mathematics:
  • Number;
  • Measurement and Chance and Data;
  • Space;
  • Working Mathematically; and
  • Structure
While the government is advertising the new "plain English" report cards, I wonder how many parents know what "structure" and "working mathematically" refer to. So, my school will be doing the right thing by the parents and adding our usual very high to low ratings on each topic.

Getting an A in the new system is reserved for those who are working "well above" their year level. The majority of students will be getting a C, which means that they are working at their year level.

The need to assess for so many different grades can easily come at the expense of formative assessment. I am very interested in comments from any teachers in other countries that have gone before us into an assessment-heavy curriculum. I want to know how you make room for formative assessment.

Take care,
Elias.

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