“One of the main challenges facing teachers in Spain today is the move away from traditional evaluation models, expressly focused on exams and marks, and instead towards more formative assessment models, which clearly focus on improving learning. Dochy, Segers and Dierick (2002) think about it as the challenge of moving from an “exam culture” to an “evaluation culture”.
What steps are being taken in Spain towards the development of an evaluation process that focuses on improving the teaching-learning process?
In Spain, student progress is monitored via continuous evaluation throughout the school year, as well as through final evaluations carried out during the different educational phases. Students must demonstrate a high degree of mastery in the different competences that correspond to their Primary Education, Compulsory Secondary Education and Baccalaureate studies, and these evaluations are carried out through the use of procedures and instruments that obtain data and guarantee validity and reliability in their identification of acquired learning.
In order to evaluate these competences it’s essential to select, whenever possible, evaluative strategies and instruments that grade students according to their performance when solving problems that simulate real-world contexts, and focus on the way they use their knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. The schools at Best Schools in Spain strive to evaluate our students in an authentic manner, keeping personal context in mind and discarding the ingrained numerical evaluation and strict objective exam systems of the past.
Teachers must also use varied evaluation procedures in order to facilitate the assessment of students as an integral part of the teaching and learning process, which in turn becomes an essential tool for improving the quality of education.
Additionally, it’s important to incorporate strategies that allow students take part in the evaluation of their own achievements, such as self-evaluation, peer evaluation and/or co-evaluation techniques. These models favour learning through the self-reflection and assessment of a student’s own difficulties and strengths, and calls for the participation of classmates in collaborative activities, as well as the collaboration with teachers in the evolving teaching-learning process.
In any case, the different evaluation procedures that can be used, such as the systematic observation of student work, oral and written tests, portfolios, registration protocols, and/or class work, allow for the integration of all the different learning competences within a consistent evaluation framework. All of these new procedures must also be accompanied by a methodological change, adapting to the new models of active methodologies. Unless we change the day-to-day teaching-learning methods and student work used today, there’s no way we’ll be able to update the evaluation system.
Bringing school closer to real life
In line with the aforementioned ideas, each school at Best Schools in Spain defines its own road map for obtaining an evaluation system that is consistent with the school’s individual work model. In like manner, there are a number of key points to keep in mind:
– Involve students in the planning, realisation and conclusions of their own evaluation
– Propose assessment tasks that are authentic and are in line with proposed objectives. Create a connection between situations, activities, and real learning content, which links the practical experience and application of the material learned.
– Contribute to the learning process (formative evaluation).
– Offer diverse techniques and instruments, highlighting those that specifically place value on the process.
– Support new technological possibilities and their capacity to collect, exchange and share information in a continuous and rapid way.
– Pay attention to diversity and especially to the evaluation and qualification of students from diverse backgrounds and situations.