The dedicated research and studies into different types of assessment, its impact on schools, governing bodies, and communities has quantified something that we all know instinctively – that assessment is not only an invaluable tool in an academic setting, but it does have lasting effect on society and its growth.

I am immersed in an environment where (in numerous cases) school administrators, parents and learners place the value of the student on his or her grades in assessment. Hence, I believe that this places an essential responsibility on me to provide assessments that can accurately evaluate a child’s academic capabilities, without ignoring his or her soft skills.

The first step, for me, is to be thoroughly prepared with the curriculum of the subject, and more importantly, to read and understand the purpose of the curriculum. The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) in India provides two detailed sets of learning objectives – for the learner as a whole, and subject-specific goals as well[1]. As a new teacher, this acts a great guide for me to communicate the coursework in a classroom setting, as my goals for the year are clear.

The second step is to successfully evaluate myself and my students on the coursework through assessments[2]. Most assessments are pre-determined by the curriculum (Mid-year and end of year examinations) and the school administration issues guidelines to ensure that all teachers adhere to it (a static blueprint of the question paper, for example)[3]. This has its benefits and disadvantages:

The guidelines make my work easier for me, as I do not have to think up of new methods of assessment, and with these tried-and-tested assessment patterns issued to me, I can make safe, informed decisions of my students’ academic performance – both individually and as a class.
However, there are certain, more creative (or rarer), forms of testing that I believe will engage the students positively with the subject content and with themselves, that I cannot implement without certain resistance. Usually, this resistance comes from students as they want to assignments that they are familiar with, so that they can do it without much effort or thought. In rare cases, my seniors are reluctant in giving me their approval to conduct these kinds of assignments due to time constraints, focus on examinations or feasibility in terms of resources.

In my ideal classroom, my assessments will not be a source of stress for students, as the emphasis would not be on the grades earned, but the learning experience. I would like them to evaluate themselves by conducting an error analysis and to be reflective of their own behavior and attitudes while attempting or performing these assessments. In reality, however, the students do not take well to any form of assignment – they do not see it as a source of improvement or reflection on their work, but rather a source of stress. The system is such that too much value is placed on the final marks scored, hence the child, in almost all cases, learns methods to crack the exam[4], rather than focusing on the concept that needs to be studied. I do try to introduce reflective practices, but it is not taken seriously unless it is introduced as part of the rubrics for evaluation.

All in all, I believe that dedicated, well thought out assessments are essential not just as a pre-requisite for the title of a “good school” but to be a source of reflection for all stakeholders involved in education – from the student to the community. Personally, my understanding of assessment and its impact through this course has been two-pronged – many of my personal beliefs were ratified; some, I have been forced to re-evaluate.

[1] Central Board of Secondary Education. (n.d.). Senior School Curriculum Class IX-X 2020-21. http://cbseacademic.nic.in/web_material/CurriculumMain21/Main-Secondary/Intitial_pages_sec_2020-21.pdf

[2] Brown, G. T. (2012). Teachers’ thinking about assessment: Juggling improvement and accountability. Teacher: the International Education Magazine, 6(2), 30-35

[3] Central Board of Secondary Education. (n.d.). Senior School Curriculum Class IX-X 2020-21. http://cbseacademic.nic.in/web_material/CurriculumMain21/revisedsyllabi/Main-Secondary/REVISEDScience_Sec_2020-21.pdf

[4] Kapur, K. (2008). Proceedings from IAEA ’08: Assessment for Improving Learning in Schools in India: A perspective. Cambridge, UK: IAEA.

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