This is part four of five in a series of blogs addressing the five key areas where Edtech can have the greatest impact on British schools as outlined by the Department for Education and Education Secretary Damian Hinds on August 7th, 2018.
The second key area the Department for Education wants to see Edtech intervention is ‘assessment processes, making assessment more effective and efficient’. At the time of writing this blog, students across the country are waking up to their A level results. For many, today is the culmination of months, if not years, of cumulative effort. Taking in the extensive news coverage and impassioned student responses, you can’t help but be struck by the monumental, make-or-break attitude we have towards assessment, marks, and achievement. Indeed, it’s a remarkable deal of pressure to think that one assessment can succinctly judge the entirety of previous effort and dictate what the next three years of your life will look like (or the rest of one’s life, according to the the more fatalistic among us). Summative assessment, whether in-school or nationally standardised, is used by schools and the Government to judge and maintain standards of teaching. While essential to macro analysis and accountability, these assessments have very real, personal implications for those students taking them.
This is where Edtech is proving itself invaluable today – it’s revolutionising the way schools conduct formative assessment. Without Edtech solutions, constant and thus effective formative assessment asks an unreasonable amount of time and effort of educators. Summative assessment, however, can only provide retroactive feedback to students – over reliance on it risks leaving gaps in knowledge or areas for improvement stagnating, if not unresolved altogether. Edtech platforms are providing students constant, intelligent feedback, allowing them to efficiently build and improve. Problems aren’t left unresolved until it’s too late. Edtech doesn’t just allow students to learn more, but to learn better. In addition to highlighting areas requiring work or stretch, formative assessments, integral to platforms like CENTURY, facilitate the ‘testing effect’ whereby material is better retained and remembered due to constant, low stakes retrieval.1 Platforms like CENTURY are ensuring that by the time students reach summative assessments, they’re demonstrating their mastery of a subject, rather than getting a cruel wake up call on what they do or do not know.
The benefit to educators is twofold – spend less time setting assessments and marking, spend more time making informed interventions. Digitising these processes allows teachers to dedicate more time to interacting directly with students and further enables them to aptly tailor teaching to their cohort’s needs. Summative assessments are as much a reflection of teaching as they are students’ achievement. As discussed in the previous blog on ‘teaching practices’ and Edtech, empowering teachers is integral to ensuring student success. We’re ensuring both students and teachers feel confident in the learning process: having a set course of action, as students do with CENTURY’s Recommended Learning Pathway; being able to clearly monitor progress, via extensive analysis available to students, teachers, and educators; not waiting until the last moment to find you’ve missed a step. When it comes time to face summative assessments, students should be prepared and in control, properly equipped with the knowledge and skills to achieve. Reading through students’ reactions to results, ranging from elation to despair, there’s an overarching equation of achieving with winning – that high level attainment is somehow conquering the system. This is symptomatic of the end-goal mentality enforced by high stakes summative assessment. We’re ensuring the duration of a student’s education, and teachers’ facilitation thereof, is as effective and constructive as possible. High level attainment on assessments is not a matter of David facing Goliath, but something we strive to make achievable for as many students as possible.
1Roediger III, Henry L., et al. “Test-enhanced learning in the classroom: long-term improvements from quizzing.” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 17.4 (2011a): 382