Assessment should be an integral part of good teaching and learning. It is important that teachers are planning for and using, both formative assessment as well as summative assessment. In many instances there has been a lack of emphasis on formative assessment and an over emphasis on summative assessment.
Summative assessments generally take place on a Quarterly basis with the Mid-year & Year end assessments being the most prominent. However, during each quarter, well planned formative assessment should be taking place as this is an extremely important part of the learning process. From the results of the formative assessment learners can see which concepts and skills they have mastered or not mastered, and where additional focus is required before a summative assessment event. For teachers it assists in reflecting on how well they have taught a topic or skill so that adjustments can be made as required by the learner feedback. It also assists the teacher to identify the skills and concepts which need to be re-taught or simply revised.
A key tool which provides formative assessment opportunities are the informal tasks which are provided for in the DBE Workbooks. If the tasks in these workbooks are correctly assigned by teachers, results reviewed, and appropriate feedback given to learners, results will improve. The challenge is that in most cases too few informal tasks are being given by teachers. The question then is “How do we know if our learners have learnt?” Yes, a topic might have been taught so it’s ticked off as completed in our tracker but have learners really learned?” The only way to establish this is by learners being required to complete informal assessment tasks and then using the results to determine if learning has taken place. We are then moving towards using assessment to inform and promote better learning rather than just for measuring and quantifying performance which is what summative assessment does. So, let’s ensure that our learners are given as many informal tasks as possible to start this journey!
Rob Wilson (Feb2018)