kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

School-based assessment: Don't burden students

 2010/08/09 LIONG KAM CHONG, Seremban, Negri Sembilan

Teachers must ensure that school-based assessment in the form of reports and projects do not overburden students.

THE decision to scrap or keep the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) and Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examinations notwithstanding, the Education Ministry seems set to introduce school-based assessment at all levels of schools in the near future.

This is my understanding of the school-based assessment, better known by its Malay acronym PBS (Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah):

- it will reduce the stresses and pressures associated with formal public examinations;

- it will be conducted continually throughout the school year on a modular or topical basis;

- it will facilitate and enhance teachers' (assessors) and students' learning interactions;

- it is holistic and includes a psychometric test; and,

- it will promote creative and critical thinking.

No doubt, it is a policy in the right direction and, therefore, should be supported and encouraged.

Admittedly, much research and pilot studies had been conducted to establish the need for PBS.

Nevertheless, the trust and enthusiasm of the academicians, researchers, planners and administrators alike must be put into effect by the conviction and commitment of teachers who are the ultimate and crucial implementers of this innovative plan. Teachers must be assured of the practicality and effectiveness of PBS.

Research and pilot studies are normally done on a "small" scale, subjects chosen are well aware of their roles and may act or react according to expectations (the so-called Hawthorne effect) and the experimental classroom and school conditions may differ vastly from what actually is on the ground. Results of experimental studies, therefore, do not automatically and wholesomely translate into happenings on a wider field.

And, now, PBS is to be introduced in every school in the country. It will be implemented by hardworking, excellent teachers as well as by recalcitrant, below-par teachers. So, there is a challenging situation at hand. There is a need to proceed with caution.

A prominent aspect of PBS is for students to carry out individual and/or group projects that culminate in report writing. This is part of the innovative approach to drive students to think creatively and critically.

This is not an entirely new experience for our schools, though. Under the present Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah, students do carry out projects and write reports for some subjects, such as Living Skills, History, Geography, Additional Mathematics and Science. We can take a cue from what is happening now.

If under PBS, where every subject requires students to do a project or write a report for the purpose of assessment, then students in Form One to Three will have to do eight projects or reports; and students in Form Four and Five will have to do 10 or 11 projects.

Do we need that many projects or reports just to prove that a student is innovative, creative and critical?

What about the teachers? On an average, a teacher is assigned five classes to teach two different subjects and at two different levels (forms).

Now, if a class has 30 students, the teacher is looking at 150 projects or reports in two different subjects and two different levels to supervise and assess. And that is for only one school term.

Ironically, this sheer abundance of projects or reports may be the very thing that would kill the zeal and interest for innovation and creativity in both students and teachers.

No wonder we hear even now of plagiarism at the school level and there are also plenty of last-minute slipshod work just to complete the projects or reports before the school term closes.

Shouldn't projects or reports be across the curriculum, meaning that a student only does one project, or at most two, that is multi-subject-based, either individually or in groups per school term or per school year?

Schools can then assign teachers to supervise and assess these projects or reports accordingly. The burden then, both for students and teachers, becomes more bearable.

If the subject specialists at the ministry plan separately for their subjects, the tendency is they will come up with each subject having its own requirement for projects and reports, although these projects and reports may necessitate a more-than-one-subject approach.

The result then is students and teachers having a very heavy load of projects and reports to do and to supervise and assess, respectively.

These are aspects that the planners of PBS at the ministry must seriously look into lest the so-called students' projects or reports become sort of "garbage-in, garbage-out" products and the assessments by teachers become meaningless and devoid of any significance.

Source: School-based assessment: Don't burden students

Tags: guru, kurikulum, pendidikan, pengajaran, perguruan, teachers

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