Assessment for guidance

‘Assessment helps guide teachers in their instruction so that they can adjust their planning to see what the children need to learn’

This is surely automatic and just happens? If a teacher leads a maths lesson based around subtraction and the children struggled to grasp the concept, then it will be revisited in the next lesson. This is the case across the whole curriculum and physical education is no exception. Assessment is undeniably necessary.

Wright, M. and Van Der Mars, H. (2004) Blending assessment into instruction. Journal of Physical Ecucation, Recreation and Dance 75, no. 9: 29-35.

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Successful assessment

‘Successful assessment for learning is not something extra; it is part of everyday teaching and learning, helping teachers and pupils reflect on the progress being made. Teachers who have successfully introduced it into their classroom practice have started small, tried out one or two strategies that they have adapted to their own context, and once those have been successful they have extended and developed them.’

 

If ‘successful assessment for learning is not something extra’ then do we need to specify how we are assessing? I believe assessment in physical education can be predominantly completed mentally by a teacher. From my experience, I am usually aware of the abilities of each child, after the lesson, despite having not actually written anything down. I feel like we are inclined as physical educationalists to conform to written assessment just in order to get recognised/valued by other educationalists. By no means am I suggesting that we scrap assessment in physical education, but I am merely playing devil’s advocate, and questioning how much time we should really spend on assessment rather than on teaching.

 

Weeden, P., Winter, J. and Broadfoot, P. (2002) Assessment: What’s in it for schools? Oxon: RoutledgeFalmer.

Purposes of assessment.

‘Commonly a four-fold classification of the purposes of assessment is used:

1 diagnostic, to identify pupils’ current performance
2 formative, to aid learning
3 summative, for review, transfer and certification
4 evaluative, to see how well teachers or institutions are performing’

 

If ‘promoting children’s learning’ is the primary concern, then how important is evaluative assessment? Can we not rely on diagnostic, formative and summative, as these will flag up any issues with how well teachers or institutions are performing.

 

Weeden, P., Winter, J. and Broadfoot, P. (2002) Assessment: What’s in it for schools? Oxon: RoutledgeFalmer.

Assessment lies at the heart of children’s learning

‘Promoting children’s learning is the principal aim of schools. Assessment lies at the heart of this process. It can provide a framework in which educational objectives may be set and pupils’ progress charted and expressed. It can yield a basis for planning the next steps in response to children’s needs. It should be an integral part of the educational process, continually providing both ‘feedback and feed forward’. It therefore needs to be incorporated systematically into teaching strategies and practices at all levels.’

Clearly assessment is necessary, but I question how much trust is placed in teachers. If it is ‘an integral part of the educational process’, then to actually provide proof and evidence may just be a waste of time. Teachers could be writing up the findings of their assessment to place it in a file or they could be using the findings of their assessment to inform the planning a follow-up lesson. Are we focussing too much on evidence rather than outcome?

DES/WO (1988) National Curriculum Task Group on Assessment and Testing: A Report. London: DES/WO.

Assessment the objective?

Assessment, more precisely examination, is rapidly becoming the sole objective, so it would seem, of education… Increasingly our education system at all levels is succumbing to the pernicious doctrine… a pestilence caught exclusively off managerial moguls… Those of us who resist the march of the assessors do so on the grounds that the loss of happiness is too high a price to pay for a spurious legitimacy.

 

I’m not for a second suggesting that we should stop assessing pupils. In the context of Physical Education we aren’t even talking about ‘examinations’, but are we focussing too much on assessment? Would children benefit more from their teachers spending more time on teaching than on assessing? Realistically can assessment take place effectively after the lesson? Or has the moment passed and will the details be forgotten?

Ross, M. (ed.) (1986) Assessment in Arts Education. Oxford: Pergamon Press.