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LETTER: Are school grades fair?

Contact The Guardian to submit a letter to the Editor.
Contact The Guardian to submit a letter to the Editor. - SaltWire Network

Schools are teaching institutions; their role is to help students gain new knowledge, attitudes and skills. Teachers test students to gather information about what students already know and can do, to identify gaps, and to gauge the effectiveness of their teaching methods. Teachers use the information to gained through testing to design activities and strategies that will take learners into new fields and new levels. This is known as formative testing; test results are reviewed with the learner but may not be assigned a value or count as part of the final mark.

Establishing grades, on the other hand, is a regulatory function; services may be regulated for a variety of reasons but in education it is primarily because society demands minimum levels of performance in certain life roles.

Such levels usually referred to as qualifications, certification or licensing; qualification bodies are usually set up by or under government regulation and operated as independent bodies

Education seems to be an exception; teachers not only teach but also grade. It’s not allowed in other spheres; we shouldn’t allow it in education either. We need an independent body to establish levels, test students and award certificates. Having an independent testing service would improve consistency of results, reduce teacher workload, reduce chances of bias, minimize cheating, and improve system flexibility and support independent study.

But let’s not get carried away. This is a plea for better, not more, testing; for some subjects, all we need is an informative transcript.

Don Glendenning,

A long-time student of education

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