The next part of this 'teaching technique Tuesday' should probably focus on how we should best use the data to inform what we as teachers do in the classroom. I however do not want to steal Mr Fraser's thunder, so please come along to the CLPL this Wednesday at lunchtime at 1320 in room 4310 as he will be speaking on SNSA's: Using the data to inform our teaching.
The fear from over assessment
Is there a fear from teaching to the test and over assessment...
There seems to be a certain amount of fear circling the SNSA's. Some teachers appear to be opposed to the tests, the main fears centre on;
- teaching to the test
- over assessment
- time constraints/issues
A disclaimer might need put in here. These fears may well warrant debate rather than rhetoric, as discussion is always healthy. Similarly as more good practice emerges fears usually become hurdles, the issue is, if they improve teaching, learning and the education system in Scotland as a whole then finding ways to clear these hurdles are worth the effort.
1) Teaching to the test - The thing is, the tests focus on literacy and on numeracy. Now, I am not a Maths teacher, neither am I an English teacher. However, across the BGE I am very much responsible for literacy and numeracy and educating pupils to become more adapt at increasing capacity across these areas. Therefore I should be teaching to this test every period I am in front of my pupils. If I'm not, then there is an issue.
"Competence and confidence in literacy, including competence in grammar, spelling and the spoken word, are essential for progress in all areas of the curriculum. Because of this, all teachers have responsibility for promoting language and literacy development. Every teacher in each area of the curriculum needs to find opportunities to encourage young people to explain their thinking, debate their ideas and read and write at a level which will help them to develop their language skills further." - BTC 1
2) Over assessment - Benchmarks within CfE warn of over assessment. However, as explained earlier formative assessment should abound in the classroom as it should shape the direction of the learning and teaching - summative assessment should also not be feared. The key is making the assessment useful and allowing it to be part of the learning rather than placing it in competition with the learning. Assessment with appropriate feedback of that assessment can often be a very meaningful learning experience for pupils is it allows for consolidation and misconceptions to be cleared up. I think bigger questions are raised when we think about the context of assessment, prioritising particular assessment and how those assessments are used, rather than the amount.
3) Time - Could the time used to assess using SNSA's be used more productively? Possibly. It is quite a subjective question. Could my time at the gym in the morning be used more productively? I am sure if you asked my wife, the answer might be yes, especially if I used that time to make tonight's dinner instead. Great things take time. However, as mentioned above it comes down to priorities. I personally see this as one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.