Assessment


Fundamental to the changes that have been taking place in education in this country is the notion of Outcomes-Based Education: rather than viewing each subject as a body of knowledge that must be acquired, this looks more holistically at the nature and the value of education, and so the ‘content’ for each subject, and the skills and values it brings, as well as the way in which it is taught, have been reviewed. A set of ‘critical outcomes’ has been developed, and each subject in its own way is expected to contribute to those outcomes, as well as to ones more specific to its own area of interest. Of course it is necessary to assess how well skills, attitudes and values have been acquired by pupils, but this is ideally done by means of assessment which is ‘criterion-referenced’ rather than ‘norm-based’: in other words, the issue is whether a student can demonstrate the right skills and knowledge, rather than whether he can score better marks than his neighbour in tests. All this is true even with the new CAPS and even though the term ‘outcomes-based’ is less used nowadays than it was. All good teaching requires assessment, in order to determine what students have or have not grasped, and what skills they have or have not developed, but not all assessment will be by means of old-fashioned tests, and not all assessment needs to arrive at a numerical mark. Assessment has to be an ongoing process, supplementing the teaching but not being the point of it. Marks that are scored are recorded and are made available on each boy’s Profile, and are combined according to a weighted calculation to show what we call the Rolling Average, which is a single figure that summarises the boy’s level of achievement in the various assessments to date. This mark is merged with marks obtained from more traditional timed tests or exams at mid-year and year-end in order to arrive at the half-year overall result.