We are having some great discussions at school at the moment around assessment. It seems that our students are overwhelmed by summative assessment and to be honest so am I. I have been trialing playing with more formative assessment this year and it is going well, but it still adds up to more marking and time away from feedback and advice in lessons (things slide when I am tired of marking…) but I thought it would generate some more questions. I pondered whether I needed to offer a ‘large’ piece of assessment to students – could I offer smaller pieces of work over time and forego the summative big piece? Could I split up my Criterion C performance work into formative observations every week or lesson rather than a tournament at the end (or could I use the tournament at the end to confirm the grades I already have on them?) Could I use Criterion A (Knowledge) in small quizzes (using Socrative or Infuse learning) instead of major making of films or exams at the end of the unit? and offer feedback or time to adjust/amend work along the way? Are we doing our students any favours by only allowing them 1 or 2 shots at a certain assessment over the year because the assessment is too large and difficult to do and grade? I would love to talk to more PE or other subject teachers who are using successful formative work and putting down the summative tasks or doing less summative work and finding the balance between feedback and sanity with their teaching load.
Thanks for sharing Jon, it is good to hear another perspective. I like the idea of talking about feedback and I also wonder whether we do assess for reporting or because we want to feedback to our students about their work and their growth in certain areas. I would like to see Criteria B in PE broken down to be more accessible and not just a one-off assessment annually that can drag PE grades down in one movement composition.
I think removing the word assessment and replacing it with Feedback sends a much better message – Feedback is about student learning and should be ongoing. I wonder how the discussion at UNIS would change if people were not allowed to use the words ‘summative’ and ‘formative’…
To preserve the sanity of us as teachers there needs to be more scope for the use of peer feedback and self reflection in how we generate the ‘summative’ marks for our kids. In PE Criteria D is easy to do as self assessment and peer assessment throughout the learning period.
I would say criteria C could be done in smaller session more often – especially if you focus on only 1 strand at a time.
We do however need to be careful to balance the continually feedback while allowing the students the opportunity to address bigger assessments – some kids excel at these and love doing them so we need to create opportunities for feedback on a variety of tasks that allow all the kids to do well.
Lastly I think the students being overwhelmed with assessments can in part be solved by a larger chat about where assessments are placed over the school year, and secondly by the much more important conversation about WHY each assessment is necessary – Yes its nice to have more ‘evidence’ to base a end of semester grade on but assessment (feedback) can not be driven by the need for grades… A focus on the why of assessment will probably reduce the amount of assessing that is done.