One step beyond – designing assessment based on what we value

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Hey you, don’t teach that. Teach this!

Do we always teach what we value? it seems to me that when push comes to shove, we end up teaching what is assessed. The urgency of accountability results, inexorably, in teaching to the test. And this, sadly, ends up with teachers teaching stuff that they don’t particularly value. I’m not in any way a mathematician, but one of the problems with maths at GCSE is that the knowledge students are taught is atomised: they are rarely shown the links and connections between, say, vectors and averages. Why not? Because the examination doesn’t require them to know this. But would it help their conceptual understanding of maths? I think so. I’m on less shaky ground when discussing English – the ‘skills’ and ‘knowledge’ need to pass the AQA English Language GCSE are fatuous. A pupil’s ability to think about language is not valued; the strictures of the mark scheme insist that questions must be answered formulaically with little room for individuality, and none for passion.

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