The purpose of evaluation is not
- to motivate children to study under threat.
- to identify or label children as ‘slow learners’, or ‘bright students’, or ‘problem children’. Such categories segregate children, placing the onus for learning solely on them, and detract from the role and purpose of pedagogy.
- to identify children who need remediation (this need not wait for formal assessment; it can be detected by the teacher in the course of teaching and attended to as a part of pedagogic planning , through individualized attention).
- to diagnose learning difficulties and problem areas—while broad indications about conceptual difficulties can be identified via evaluation and formal testing. Diagnosis requires special testing instruments and training. It is also specific to foundational areas of literacy and numeracy, and is not meant for subject areas.
So then, what is the purpose of evaluation?Again, quoting from the NCF, In the Indian education system, the term evaluation is associated with examination, stress and anxiety. If education is concerned with preparing citizens for a meaningful and productive life, then evaluation should be a way of providing credible feedback on the extent to which we have been successful in imparting such an education. Given the present structure of evaluation, it has not been successful in providing adequate and comprehensive feedback on a student’s overall learning. Instead, it has forced students to resort to rote learning rather than understanding concepts, and parents to set certain unrealistic benchmarks for their children.
In an attempt to understand the cause and effect of the evaluation system, I created a mindmap with the help of Anupriya and Manasi. This helped me in identifying specific issues with the system, and come up with a few initial design opportunities.
- If assessment must be comprehensive and qualitative, based on the teacher’s daily observation of a child, does the teacher have enough time and resources to do so?
- Can communication between parents, teachers and students be improved? Can Open Saturdays as a concept be implemented in a more productive and meaningful manner?
- Is it possible to make the CCE system easily understood by the parents, so they can use it to truly monitor and facilitate their child’s learning?
- Is there a way we can help teachers understand that evaluation is an integral part of their role in shaping a child’s future, and not something they have to do after school hours (added burden)?
- Can report cards become a platform for more open dialog between parents, teachers and students with parent feedback on the report rather than only signature, and student’s self assessment and introspection?
- Is it necessary to have F or red marks on the report card? Is it possible to have subjective remarks from the teacher followed by parent and student opinion/feedback/discussion?
- Does everything need to be shown on the report card, such as cleanliness/behaviour, etc. which creates a divide among students based on economic status? Can such information be directly communicated to the parents?
- Can connections be made between academic and co-curricular activities on the report card so a student is truly assessed on the basis of his learning? Eg. A student might have scored less marks in English but may have won/done well in an essay writing competition.
- Can hierarchy and emphasis given to different subjects, and then other activities be rethought of in the report card? The fragmented and block like structure creates immediate hierarchy in terms of what is important and what is not.
INTERVENTIONS / DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES
- Evaluation Diary for Teachers to keep track of everyday observations & comments so it is easier to compile at the time of preparing a report card. It would also help in tracking progress over a longer duration of time, and would provide insights that otherwise can be easily missed. It also would reduce the burden on the teacher to think, recollect and write about a large number of students if a daily/weekly record is maintained.
- Primer/toolkit/small scale publication to break down the CCE system and make it easily understood by parents. A similar approach can be taken with the target audience being teachers.
- Intervention to get more out of Parent-Teacher meetings, focussing on improving communication between them and the students. It is not enough to know that a student did or did not do well in a particular subject or activity; it is essential to understand why.