When exams get in the way of learning
African-American high school students give presentations about their family histories, for instance how they came to migrate to Chicago from the South (see page 8).
Two eight-year-olds hold a perfectly natural conversation about their "learning power", setting goals for self-improvement (see opposite).
And in Cambridgeshire, International Baccalaureate students keep portfolios and diaries of the community service work they must complete (page 13).
Schools are discovering the value of "assessment for learning", in which evidence about the level children have reached is used to help teachers figure out where they can go next and how best to get there. Teachers find it improves relationships with pupils and makes their jobs more fulfilling (page 9). Assessment for learning is on government agendas, too, across the United Kingdom. England, though, is the only nation that is not at least thinking about scrapping formal tests at 11 and 14 (page 6). With the pressure of high-stakes testing at 11, many schools may see the benefits of assessment for learning as a luxury they can't afford.
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