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Assessment for learning or Assessment of Learning

May 20th, 2007 by Graham Attwell

In the paper I published on the site last week, I talked about the present system of assessment being a barrier to the introduction of e-Portfolios and pedagogic innovation. I cited Richard Stiggins  who distinguishes between assessment for learning and assessment of learning.

There is no doubt which paradigm the UK follows. An article in todays Observer newspaper highlights the increasing problem of exma related stress for school students. “Unprecedented numbers of psychologists are now having to help pupils deal with the emotional strain – which can lead to sleepless nights, eating disorders and other illnesses”, they say.

The artcile goes on to say that Place2Be – a charity offering emotional support to primary school children – has seen a massive increase in the numbers of pupils approaching counsellors about exams.

“The charity runs a project called Place2Talk in 113 schools where children can post requests to see a counsellor into postboxes placed in the school buildings. So far 70 per cent of the children in the schools have asked for support.

Sheridan Whitfield, a manager for the charity in London, said children from the age of five were able to place requests for a chat into postboxes placed in the school. ‘Children are accessing it more for exam worries.’

The relentless pressure means psychologists are being called into schools at an increasing rate, according to Hill: ‘We are doing this in a way that we were not doing it five years ago.””

This is ridiculous. It has nothing to do with education and learning. We need a concerted effort to develop and implement new forms of assessment – including self assessment, group assessment and peer assessment. We need to develop ideas about authentic assessment – where the process of work itself, rather than the endlessly spiraling test regime.

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