The Challenge of Student Assessment
What is the best way to assess a student? The most likely answer could be “There is no one way” Another way of putting this question is “Who is the best student?” A teacher’s perspective is that the best student is one who has grasped all the knowledge imparted by the teacher. The next question is how to evaluate the student and lastly what exactly are its affects on student quality?
The following are commonly used assessment methods.
1. Brute Force Method
2. Crucial Concepts Method
3. Balanced Method
Brute Force is to ask the student to answer all the questions covering all the knowledge that was imparted. Crucial Concepts Method the teachers tend to ask student concepts which they or their peers think are important. There is a balanced approach too where students are asked a set of questions some of which are difficult and some easy. In general it is considered to be a fair means of judging a student. Long after a contentious debate the teachers would come up with this approach. So it’s fairly popular even if not widely used.
Evaluation methods could be categorized into the following.
1. Hard Ball Evaluation
2. Soft Ball Evaluation
3. Flat Evaluation
Evaluation differs from teacher to teacher according to their temperament. For example, the same answer could be graded A by one teacher, while another teacher might say that at best it’s B or in some cases worse (Hard Ball Evaluation). Some teachers consider the partial answers or attempts to solve the questions while others are on the lookout for concise and complete solution (Soft Ball Evaluation). Such problems have motivated people to resort to multiple choice questions (Flat Evaluation). This approach although consistent does not lend the teacher an opportunity to test the thought process of the student.
The guiding principles of assessment and evaluation should be
This is where the educational leader comes in. The leader has to ensure that the teachers are trained to ensure the guiding principles are adhered. The teachers can maintain consistency and fairness through peer-reviews of examinations, current teaching methodologies and especially going through international standards. The educational leader’s role is to ensure normalization of the evaluation and assessment procedure across the board.
Impact on Student Quality
The impact of evaluation and assessment methodology on student quality. The student quality can be determined by the knowledge that the student gains after going through the experience. Knowledge is the “The psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning” . This definition explains the difficult job of the teacher. Perception of the students is enhanced through lecturing, learning is improved by dialogue and challenges posed in the class and reasoning is improved by exercises and applying the ideas. Here applying ideas is not limited to the application to real life problems but encompasses the knowledge applied to create further knowledge. Therefore the evaluation methodology directly affects the student quality. Since a hardball evaluation mechanism keeps the students alert but has the down side of thrusting de-motivation and frustration. While the soft ball mechanism keeps students motivated and confident but could lead them to complacency.
Aspirations of an Educator
Life’s ubiquity and diversity and yet its constant commonality defines the life and times of men. Amidst these men pursue assorted objectives and aims of life. An educator’s days of life are strewn by belief of disseminating what is known and appreciating what is learnt. Few have the mental and emotional courage to see and love the growth of other men more than an educator.
Balancing Expectations (Desires) and Responsibilities (Obligations) of Educational Leaders
I was reading an article  about how educational leaders should create learning communities. The following points are the summary (or to-do items) suggested by the article.
1. Emphasize to teachers that you know that they can succeed together
2. Expect teachers to keep knowledge fresh
3. Guide communities towards self-governance
4. Make data accessible
5. Teach discussion and decision-making skills
6. Show teachers the research
7. Take time to build trust
A look at the above action items leads us to go ahead and just do them. But the skeptic would stop and have a deep look at them and then ask some questions. Skeptic (if used properly) at times provides deep insights into something which on the surface look great. Now skeptic’s questions could be item by item as following.
1. The idea that the teachers can succeed together is an old one. Maybe the earlier leaders have tried and failed to unify the motley crew and make them work together?
2. Expect teachers to keep knowledge fresh? Free periods are for checking student’s notes and tests, no time at home how does the principal expect us to keep fresh?
3. Self-governance is a holy grail? People don’t show up for classes in time how do I expect them to take up responsibilities?
4. There has to be data for it to be accessible, which in turns increases the staff’s workload?
5. Teaching the teachers is difficult and expensive?
6. Show the research to them. Go to Item number 3.
7. Trust well I have people with me for over a decade but I trust them for the things they are doing but not the things I expect them to do?
Now this is not an exhaustive list of questions a skeptic might ask but they are representative enough to prompt second thoughts about the suggested course of action. Let’s look at how this situation can be improved upon by balancing expectations and responsibilities.
In order to completely understand why a balance between expectations and responsibilities is required one needs to simply replace the original context of the article. Let’s say if the writer states that the points mentioned above can remedy an imbalance between expectations and responsibilities, not much would change in the suggested actions.
Therefore for best results it’s imperative to quantify what the educational leader in the organization desires and what are his expectations from the teachers. So the teachers can respond by behaving responsibly and fulfilling all obligations and for the institution to be counted amongst the best schools.