03 SES 06 JS, Addressing the Challenges at the Interface of Curriculum Innovation and Evaluation
Symposium JS NW 03 and NW 09
Existing critique of systemic assessment and large scale studies is that they exert an unwarranted influence of education systems and the deeper purposes of education are not taken into account (Biesta, 2013). In fragile education systems, or systems which are engaging in curriculum reform, undue focus on systemic testing may be counter-productive. In such a situation there may be a disjuncture between the process of curriculum innovation and the monitoring system tasked with gauging the success of the emerging curricula.
The monitoring process inevitably looks backwards to what has been achieved and the curriculum innovation process looks forward envisaging a future that might emerge. The difficulty for monitoring systems is that in order for them to collect data which are reliable and which are manageable there is a curtailing of the curriculum to that which can be easily monitored. An innovative curriculum, for example one based on promoting extended investigations or a deeper conceptual understanding that involves spending time on core concepts, may initially be seen not to produce the outcomes demanded by the assessment instrument.
And yet some form of external monitoring is necessary to gauge standards. In addition exposure to the curriculum frameworks and the assessment items in large scale and systemic assessment may serve to “prevent schools from becoming isolated in considering their standards, …focus attention on possible deficits in learning and provide examples of professionally-constructed tests” (Andrich, 2009, p. 30). The question which arises is how externally mandated assessment of learning and classroom-based assessment for learning may interactively provide information to the educational system, and support the classroom teacher.
The theoretical frameworks draw from curriculum theory, cognitive theories of learning, and assessment models.
Three papers are presented in this symposium. The first paper, presented by Kuiper, Nieveen & Berkvens from the Netherlands, debates the balance between curriculum regulation and curriculum freedom in the Netherlands. The emphasis on outcomes without focussing on the educational goals is questioned, and initiatives to debate the curricular issues are discussed. The second paper, presented by Nabors Oláh from Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the U.S., reports on the Cognitively Based Assessment of, for and as Learning (CBAL) project. The purpose of the paper is to present the CBAL model, and show how computer based assessment tasks were used to inform teacher understanding and to modify instruction. The third paper focuses on “Assessment enriched teaching and learning” in mathematics, presented by Long, Dunne & Engelbrecht, from South Africa. The project on which this paper is based draws on the CBAL model, but also considers the critical role of the teacher in engaging with the curriculum in a deeper way, in the interests of greater learning and consequently achievement on systemic and other assessment programmes.
The perspectives from three different continents indicate the global nature of educational issues which impact across continents.
Biesta, G. (2013). Good Education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Education Assessment Evaluation and Accountability (21) 33-46.
Andrich, D. (2009). Review of the Curriculum Framework for curriculum, assessment and reporting purposes in Western Australian schools, with particular reference to years Kindergarten to Year 10. Perth: University of Western Australia.
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