This video was developed in 2011, at the start of the new BCEDplan discussions on developing new curriculum, assessment and resources for the 21st Century and personalised learning.
As I’ve written before, the new BC curriculum draft documents for K-9 in Science, Maths, Socials and English have been available since October. The core competencies of thinking, communicating and personal/social proficiencies, with a developmental aspect, are weaved within the curriculum, along with big ideas in each of the core curricula that have been released. This is all to look at how teaching and learning has changed and reflects the concepts of the 21st Century Learner and personalised learning.
As with all new curriculum, the development of a strong assessment strategy that reflects the intentions of the curriculum ideas is a necessary. The new curriculum document looks at the assessment in three areas: classroom, provincial and international/national. An Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment was created to look at ways that assessment can align with the new curricula emphasis on learning.
Foremost, Assessment For Learning is critical and takes a prominent role in the classroom for learners to create their own knowledge, understand their strengths and identify areas for growth. Although summative assessments are used as a way of looking at what has been learned (also called assessment of learning), formative assessments give students more opportunities to demonstrate their learning as it happens. The opening of the curriculum gives teachers permission to explore and delve deeper into the interests of the learner within the constraints of the learning areas.
Provincial assessments (ie examinations) are still included within the document, particularly within the grades 4, 7, 10, 11, and 12. However, the Ministry is looking for feedback on three important questions for provincial examinations:
- Which areas of learning and competencies should provincial assessments and examinations measure in BC?
- How can provincial assessments and examinations be designed to help inform instruction?
- What information do schools and districts need from provincial assessments and examinations?
This structure of examinations puts some pressure on the teacher and learner, especially with the vague concept of ‘areas of learning and competencies’, to meet outcomes that are harder to assess and even harder to complete in the traditional pen tests of the past. It will be interesting to see what competencies are valued and what are not within those exams.
Finally, the assessments at the national and international level are addressed. I personally do not see the value in including such assessments, particularly if the new curriculum focuses on competencies, extended learning and deeper understanding. Although these assessments are designed to be external reference points and allow BC learners and their parents to compare levels of proficiency, they are not aligned with the exploratory and inquiry based models that the curriculum sets out to be.
If you want to comment on these assessments, check out the Ministry of Education’s site on the new curriculum.
I’m reminded of the learning pyramid from the 1960’s on retention of learning and wonder where we will be in forty-five years from now: