RE: Talk About Assessment by Damian Cooper Chapter 9
What I learned from the beginning of Chapter 9 was: children are not automobiles. From this one can infer that the procedures undertaken when manufacturing automobiles and the procedure undertaken when educating children will not be the same. Why anyone would have thought it was a good idea to apply car manufacturing principles to education is beyond me. Children/youth are too dynamic of learners, and have too much variance in their upbringings/experiences to apply a factory line/cookie cutter program to their education. Cooper sums it up well when he says “surely, I thought, our goal is to produce uniqueness, not sameness!” (183).
Cooper suggests adding more standards to each final grade a student is given, while also separating aspects of final grades such as achievement, behaviour and attitude. This way the parents and student can better understand where the student’s strengths lie and where they need to improve. Furthermore, Cooper suggests that these standards should include separate academic achievement and behavioural data/standards so Universities and prospective employers can recognize how a student work ethic/behaviour is in addition to their academic success. Thus, academic success and behavior won’t be obscured in a student’s single final grade.
The Growing Success article stressed that “two distinct but related aspects of student achievement are evaluated: the achievement of curriculum expectations, and the development of learning skills and work habits” (45). Like Cooper, this article suggests behavioural and attitudinal data should not be calculated together with academic achievement in a single final grade. Instead this data will be provided separately on report cards.
During high school I always struggled in English class. Nearing the end of Grade 12 English I felt I had put in enough effort to at least have earned myself a B grade, yet my grade was barely at the C+ level. This was very frustrating for me as I put as much effort into this class as I did my other classes which I had B grades in. My friends, who handed in their assignments late and didn’t put effort into class, had similar grades to me just because they were better writers. If the system discussed in the previous paragraphs had been implemented and my friend and I were compared by a University or employer, I would have most likely gotten the job/been accepted to the school because I had better behavior. I think this system has interesting merits and would reward students who have a good work ethic. This system also helps students whose work ethic is limited as it promotes better communication to parents and the student.
I have another personal example where separating behavior and academic success would have benefited a student. I had a friend in high school whose parents received a phone call from my friend’s Chemistry teacher. The teacher reported to the parents that my friend was rude and slept constantly in class. The parents asked the teacher what my friend’s grades were. The teacher responded that my friend was receiving 95% in the course. The parents said they failed to see the problem. Perhaps if behavior/work ethic had been a part of this student’s evaluation the parents would have been more concerned about their son’s behavior knowing it would be on his final record. Reporting behavior on report cards is another tool for communication at a teacher’s disposal (the more tools the better!). For example, if the teacher had not phoned the parents, sent home a report card containing no separated evaluation and a grade of 95%, the parents would have just assumed everything was fine at school.
Cooper also touches on the idea of allowing student’s grades to be reevaluated later in the term. Furthermore, in the Growing Success article it is discussed whether grading late assignments should be met with punitive measures. The article states that experts debate for and against punitive measures. Experts against punitive measures argue that behavioral and attitudinal data is better given separate than grades (similar to what Cooper argues).
I have one last personal example. As I discussed before I struggled in English. In my Grade 12 class my teacher allowed students to rewrite any of the papers we had done during the term. I worked hard throughout the term to resubmit my papers (some of which I resubmitted several times) and tried to attain a higher grade. I think this idea really promoted students to try and learn. Instead of our final grades being based on something we did 3 months ago, we were being graded on what we knew by the end of the course. I would argue evaluating what students know by the end of the course is much more important than evaluating the process by which students gained their knowledge.
Thanks for reading my thoughts!