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Discussion: Developing and discussing classroom assessment strategies

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posted by: Paul Black on March 24, 2000 at 9:06AM
subject: Response
I really enjoyed Mack McCary's contributions, so the main thing I want to
say is congratulations to Mack. The title "Cultural Change" is very
appropriate - I've found elsewhere that teachers may say, and believe, that
they are adopting an innovation when in fact they are assimilating
superficial aspects only and changing nothing. You may also enjoy the title
of one research study in UK primary schools - it goes "Teacher-pupil
interaction in formative assessment: assessing the work or protecting the
child ?" (Pryor and Torrance in The Curriculum Journal vol.7 pp.205-226,
1996). For some primary teachers, formative dialogue and feedback are social
functions, not cognitive or learning functions.
We have found it very important to ask teachers to keep a journal: those
that do take on change often do not realise how much they are changing. We
are now working with some on our project on reviewing with them the diaries
they have kept over a year to reflect with them on their change.
I see part of the struggle to escape the habit of averaging or adding
grades to be an escape from the practices of summative assessment. These,
even when healthy in themselves (which is rare) provide a very poor model
for formative work, so I think it important to make clear in any innovative
work that "this is going to be different".
I hope you are keeping a record from which you can write this up. I get the
impression, Mack, that you have a lot to say aboput the processes of teacher
change - can you say as much about how the pupils have changed in their
attitude to learning, and does this connect with what I had to say about
self- and peer-assessment ?:

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