Assessments in the post-pandemic era - Clare Jarmy in Teaching Times
The pandemic brought unprecedented changes to the UK education system, particularly in the way student assessments were conducted. In a new article for Teaching Times, Clare Jarmy, Assistant Head (Learning & Development) at Bedales Senior, considers what the period demonstrates about teachers’ ability to accurately judge students’ grades.
Reflecting on the shift from traditional exams to Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) in 2020 and Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) the following year, Clare describes opposing reactions. While some concluded that the subsequent increase in high grades suggest teachers shouldn't be trusted, she explains that others are curious about alternative forms of assessment, which could incorporate teacher judgements to develop a more holistic view of student achievement.
In making a case for the latter, Clare points to Bedales’ long-standing use of teacher judgements through Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs), which have replaced many GCSEs and have been part of the school’s curriculum for nearly 20 years. Assessments for BACs are set, assessed and moderated internally, before being externally moderated. As Clare explains, this enables a broader assessment of student skills and progress, in contrast with high-stakes, exam-centric approaches.
Clare argues that apprehension over the reliability of teacher judgements has become muddled with a systematic lack of trust in teachers, as observed by Lord Knight from the Lords Select Committee on 11-16 Education. Examining CAGs and TAGs, she explains that they are not a good measure of the reliability of teacher assessments because they are not comparable with previous assessments. "We can't implement a totally different methodology for assessing students' progress and then be surprised that it yields different results."
Concluding that the challenges of assessment during the pandemic are explained by ineffective use rather than the unreliability of teachers, Clare argues that teachers' judgements, when used effectively, are a valid assessment tool. She points to her experience at Bedales with BACs, which demonstrate that teacher assessments can provide a more comprehensive understanding of student achievements, and writes that a balanced approach, combining teacher assessments with external moderation, is the way forward in educational assessment.
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