Assessment and the Curriculum

Assessment and the Curriculum

Does Assessment have to drive the curriculum? (Cole, Hulley, and Quarles, 2009)

The following is a summary and discussion of an article entitled ‘Does Assessment have to Drive the Curriculum?” written by Cole, Hulley and Quaries in 2009. A full link to the article can be found here.

This article takes aim at the structure of assessment and learning in schools. It outlines the fact that assessment often only looks at student performance on one day of the year for only a few hours.

It is not fair to reduce weeks and weeks of learning to such a short period of time. Furthermore, the article argues, learning is also not necessarily assessable as individuals. Students that learn better in groups and demonstrate knowledge collaboratively are often left behind in the rigid assessment structure of schools.

Standardised assessment is also a problem in schools for teachers. Teachers fall into the trap of teaching to the curriculum and for assessment. Seeing as assessment is individual, so is teaching.

Teachers stray away from valuable group tasks in favour of rote learning and individual ‘silent’ work to replicate the exams structure and environment. Thus, the writers of the article call for an overhaul of the way in which schools assess students. Calling for amendments such as group assessments, and less high-stakes testing.

The thing about Australian schooling, and Western schooling in general, is the way in which student learning needs to be quantifiable. Testing like the HSC and the now defunct School Certificate emphasise that learning is individual, and that it can be put into a number or percentage.

The truth is, students learn more skills and knowledge at school than can possibly be quantified in high-stakes testing. Therefore, the importance of assessments with variety cannot be understated.

Assessing in diverse ways such as in groups, for creative tasks, and assessing formatively on top of this is the best way to give variety to the assessment structures of schools.

What do you think about assessment in schools?

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