Pupils best to monitor own progress

As attention turns to how a young person's progress in achieving the four purposes of A Curriculum for Excellence might be assessed, we need to reflect on what assessment designed to measure such broad capacities should look like.

None of these purposes is easily measured, but we need to think how we can assess what we now claim to value. The capacities are easily stated but difficult to measure, so we should resist the temptation to think that, in assessing young people's achievements as learners, individuals, citizens and contributors, it will be possible to reduce the results to brief levels or grades.

Any attempt to do so would create conditions which negate the purposes of the new curriculum. Atomising the task of evaluating very broad capacities by using existing subject-related assessment procedures is unlikely to offer a valid way forward.

Meaningful assessment needs to cross subject boundaries and be sustained in a coherent way by all those involved in a young person's education. This implies that the person best placed to monitor the progress of an individual pupil is the pupil him or herself, working in close collaboration with all those responsible for them.

Hence the centrality of self-evaluation by pupils. If peer and self- assessment by pupils is to become a priority in achieving this, then all teachers must develop the inclination and capacity to do so. But they will need to see teaching as more than the transmission of subject content. It must be about engaging children and young people in their learning by stimulating and sustaining their capacity for critical and creative thinking, based on active participation and shared dialogue.

Teachers will have to reflect on how their own ways of working with pupils to meet these demands can be transferred to the pupils themselves so that, over time, they can become thoughtful and skilled in evaluating their own progress.

In this way, pupils can progressively develop the capacity for self- assessment they will need to monitor their own progress in achieving the purposes of ACfE.

Eric Young, iTelligent Classrooms Ltd, Biggar.

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