Assessing level of competence rather than grading

Education is changing every day. Methodologies are changing and so are policies. One thing that has yet to change is how we assess students’ performance. We are still grading students.Achievement is still based on a 0 – 100 % system.

I find it strange that we go on about policies that should change and in-class implementation that needs to change yet grading is still very common and that a student is given a percentage for his/her performance. Grades do not provide a true reflection of a student’s mastery. Grades actually do more harm than good.

Today we find that majority of teachers are forced to inflate grades because if the grades do not meet the parent’s expectations then there will be a showdown at school between the parent and teacher because as you know these days, the teacher is always wrong!
Students are expected and pressured by parents to perform to achieve an acceptable grade, yet what they don’t know is that this is only going to do more harm than good. Grades are not a good communicator of performance despite what many would like to believe. It only adds stress to a student.

Standardized testing itself needs to go. We must start assessing students according to their level. We know that we have very different levels of students in one classroom, so how can standardized testing accurately indicate each student’s performance? Assessments need to be tailored to the levels of each student in order to get a clearer picture of their development. It is after all only fair to assess according to their individual levels. Teachers must be able to assess whenever they want and not at specific times. We need to follow what is being done in Finland. We need to develop a culture of trust. Teachers must be given flexibility and autonomy.

We must start assessing competency, we must assess based on growth and not just a test.We must assess through a portfolio of evidence and not tests. Portfolio’s show consistency in students work, it shows understanding, it motivates them to push harder to show off their best.Rubrics must be used and assessed according to levels of competence.
We must learn to assess positively and in a non-damaging way. Portfolios also allow for differentiated assessing. As mentioned before that every class has a wide range of learners with different needs who all need to be addressed differently.
We can only unleash a student’s true potential when we teach and assess on their level and not on a standardized level because this means nothing.

True wisdom is when you are able to speak to somebody on a level that they understand, therefore teaching and assessing all kids, in the same way, means nothing.
In order to become more successful and really make a difference in the lives of our students, we need to change the way we not only teach but also the ways in which we assess.