Votes to students, “that’s why they should be abolished.” The point of view of manager Vincenzo Caico. INTERVIEW is an experimental project

Grades are everything in the school world. They explain the results and motivate students to study hard and perform well. Or at least that’s a theory. The debate over whether grades help or hinder student learning is as old as the grading system itself, which dates back to the late 1800’s. Surprising as it may seem, some teachers do not think grades are a useful tool. Many teachers, especially those involved in the process of renewing the assessment system, a debate that is affecting some highly educated school managers, complain about the assessment scale because they believe it inhibits learning or, in any case, it only evaluates some aspects. . These critics argue that assessment encourages students to get good grades at the expense of meaningful learning.

Supporters of the current rating system

Students, Thompson writes, often see grades as the main obstacle to getting into college, earning a degree, or getting the job of their dreams. For many students, this pressure causes anxiety and stress. Of course, many educators and most high, middle and high school schools and universities still prefer the traditional grading system. Advocates argue that grades make students responsible for their work and provide a simple framework for their position in the classroom. Most schools rely on grades to assess student performance, although some schools have banned them experimentally (and only for some types of assessments) as part of their autonomy prerogatives without, but , invalidate the evaluation system defined by current legislation. Some institutions favor methods such as the pass-fail grading system, self-assessment, and teacher assessments rather than grades. To give meaning to the ongoing discussion on evaluation, we have gathered some of the common arguments for and against evaluation.

The interview with prof. Vincenzo Caico, director against the traditional system of assessment of summative learning based on notes

A few months ago the director prof. Vincenzo Caico, head of the “Michelangelo Buonarroti” Institute of Higher Education in Monfalcone, well known in Italy for being a pilot with authority from a major institute, a breeding ground for experiments and revisions of traditionalisms that are now too old like chalk. the Italian school directly to parents with a long letter. Prof. Vincenzo Caico “Assessing means making a value judgment about the distance that separates a student from his or her learning goals. But not only that. In English, assessment is called assessment, which is derived from the Latin “sitting”, or sitting next to you, the gesture that often has to unite those who teach and those who learn. “What do you think of assessment and how much is projected? in the future it can be seen precisely what is announced in the detailed interview that follows.

Executive, what is evaluation really?

“Before we ask what the assessment is, it’s worth asking what role the school should play. In parallel with education, the school has a duty to provide an educational service that contributes to and supports what is done by those with parental responsibility, and when it comes to education it is not just about giving shared values ​​to boys and girls. on which our company is based, but also to accompany their growth, in years of tumultuous and constant personal changes, to discover their own attitudes, talents and desires for the future, accompanying them in the development of their autonomy and personal responsibility. If we think about these terms, assessment must also have a formative and educational role that constantly accompanies the student in his learning processes, helping him to know and overcome his limits and giving value to each cultural achievement and staff. But learning is a complex multidimensional process. When checking the achievement or failure of certain learning objectives, the teacher evaluates different dimensions, based on the verification test, and makes a judgment of intrinsic value and sometimes not expressed, also taking into account the school career and student staff. It is easy to understand that summarizing these judgments and assessments by summarizing them in a number is a trivialization of both the effort of those who learn and the profuse professionalism of those who teach.

Executive Caico, do we still need this blessed number to evaluate our students?

“The numerical grade, or rather the positioning of a student’s performance on a measurement scale, only gives an illusion of synthesis and objectivity. The actual assessment has nothing to do with the synthesis, for the reasons I have just stated, as even a single service offered deserves a multidimensional analysis and feedback provided to the student or the equally multidimensional student, nor nor with objectivity. Trivially, if we assign ten teachers to correct the same Italian test, each of them will express a different judgment, as the assigned grades will also be different despite the possible use of the same rubric or assessment grid. The evaluation of a mathematical task is also multidimensional: in addition to the correct application of a solution procedure, the mastery of the specific language of the discipline, the ability to identify the solution strategy can be taken into account. more appropriate, the use of logical thinking, etc. Assessing means making a value judgment about the distance that separates a person’s learning levels from their learning goals. In this judgment, in addition to the elements gathered, the teacher’s appreciation plays an essential role. The only verification test that lends itself well to a measure is a closed battery of questions. In this case, it makes sense to say that a student is classified at level 38 on a full scale of 50, in all other cases not. It makes no sense if we understand assessment as a form of teaching that has the task of helping boys and girls achieve their goals. The digital vote not only does not help in this sense, but it does not even help to express the simple achievement or not of the objectives ”.

Is there a real alternative to digital voting?

“The choice is between a summative-certification learning assessment system, more suitable for the evaluation of candidates for a public competition, and a truly formative and educational assessment system. The second model can only be based on the recognition that learning processes are complex and personal, and on a constant educational dialogue between those who teach and those who learn. The teacher then provides the most appropriate feedback possible, expressed through synthetic notes or more complete descriptive judgments, which offer an explanation of the level of learning achieved in the different dimensions of interest for assessment. But the teacher also receives feedback from the student, useful to make his teaching more effective. Authentic educational assessment is constant, as a way to check the level of understanding by students of what is taught, and is also two-way and transformative, as it aims to improve both their learning processes and teacher teaching processes. In addition, true formative assessment encourages and supports the self-assessment of the learner, that is, the reflection of the student and the student on their own learning processes. Finally, it also makes a valuable judgment about those attitudes, such as perseverance, resilience, or the development of an effective study method, that help those who are learning to learn better. ”

Manager, how could each center act to adapt the assessment system to the changing training needs of the new generations?

“It would be enough to remember the indications of Legislative Decree 62/2017, which states that the purpose of the evaluation is the training process and learning outcomes, has training and educational purposes, contributes to the improvement of learning and educational success, documents the development of personal identity and promotes the self-assessment of each, each center, in full autonomy, can develop its own system of assessment of learning of a formative nature, alternative to what is The Buonarroti Institute in Monfalcone has succeeded, and this year we have started a first experimental system in the first two years with the deletion of the current grades and their replacement by judgments. After all, the only time the law prescribes the use of notes 1 to 10 is in the middle and final scrutiny, but even those same notes are not they must understand as a cardinal measure, but as a level achieved in learning to which corresponds a specific descriptor that takes into account multiple dimensions of learning. Unfortunately, the bad practice of using numerical grades also for continuous assessment is difficult to eradicate within teaching communities. The phrases “we’ve always done this” or “but we already do it” are enemies of innovation and change. But I am optimistic. In recent months I have met several school principals and many teachers who are fully aware that the traditional assessment system is no longer sustainable, especially because it generates anxiety and disaffection to study, overthrows the feeling of being in school to our students and our students. students and, in the worst case, leads to early school leaving. Following the example of the reform of primary school assessment, I and other colleagues are ready to form a large national network of educational institutions that seek to initiate autonomous processes of experimentation also at the secondary and high school level.

But don’t competencies clash with a system that bases its assessment solely on numbers and “summation”?

“Of course. The traditional system based on summative numerical qualifications is not adequate to check the achievement of learning objectives from a training and educational point of view, but it is even more inadequate to encourage the development of skills and certify this development. Remember that skills mobilize knowledge and skills, but also personal attitudes and experiences, in terms of autonomy and personal responsibility.Filling the electronic register tables with numbers has nothing to do with such complex processes and I would even say that they are so In our schools, together with extraordinary teachers who know how to inspire and motivate students, unfortunately we also have teachers who calculate the average of the grades and who, in front of an average of 6 and a half, ask another question to decide whether to 7 or 6 to the vote, not to mention the meaningless role of 2, 3 or 4 in an educational key, or the pers instance of defining and assigning levels of devaluation to what cannot be valued, or failure to achieve minimum targets. An authentic system of formative and educational evaluation, as well as, by its nature, to contribute to the development of the autonomy and the responsibility, can favor a more effective evaluation of the level of attainment of the competitions, so specific of the different disciplines. as transversal and personal. , by connecting, within the school curriculum, the same competencies for the learning objectives that feed its development ”.

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