The reality of classroom-based assessments
Sir, – An aim of the new Junior Cycle reforms is a move toward a formal approach to continuous assessment through the use of classroom-based assessment. Implicit in this movement is a reaction to criticism that teaching and learning were product orientated; that teachers were effectively “teaching toward the exam”. These reforms are to then replace this summative model and usher in a process-driven and formative approach to teaching and learning. However, the cumbersome and time-consuming nature of classroom-based assessments (CBAs) has now resulted in teaching and learning “toward the CBA”. Teaching the curriculum is now secondary to the flurry of administrative and logistical demands placed on teachers and management that comes with each individual set of the CBA. Learning is also secondary to many students who become preoccupied with CBAs to the detriment of deeper engagement with the curriculum.
Given that the final exam is weighted at 90 per cent, the CBAs have simply introduced a complicated and circuitous mode of assessment without removing the fundamentally summative nature of the Junior Cycle. In my experience, as a consequence of these reforms, it is becoming clearer and clearer that teachers spend less time teaching and students less time learning in the first three years of their secondary education. – Is mise,