A child’s mind is unpredictable, in that it is not possible to ascertain what effect doing an evaluation, or its results, are going to be on his/her mind. As adults, both parents and educators know how important it is for a child to go through processes of evaluation.
Dealing with the technicalities first, an evaluation has to be based on what has been taught, explained, understood and worked on. In a tangible evaluation, the educator is assessing what the student knows, and how well he/she expresses orally and in writing what he/she knows.
It is an evaluation of how much the student knows, what the misconceptions are, and where the child has not been able to quite understand what has been taught in the class. It is an evaluation of the skills of application of knowledge learned.
An evaluation sets standards, and is an assessment of the effectiveness of the academic program. The student has to be fully aware of what the evaluation is going to be like. What kind of questions are going to be asked, and what is expected of him/her. The student needs to be clear about the marking scheme. The rubrics have to be clear and unambiguous. Tangible evaluation is not only testing, but includes, areas like projects, homework, oral skills, written assignments based on research, to name a few. This is to help all children of all abilities to achieve. Even the written assessment has to have sections that all children can attempt and succeed at. These are concrete evaluations, and have to be conducted properly, and with the seriousness that is due them.
Practice is Critical
The intangible evaluation gauges and assesses the student’s attitude to work, thinking and reasoning skills and all other areas of preparedness. Either way, children have to groomed, and given thorough practice, so that they are not at sea in the situation they are placed in. If a written test is to be given, prior to this, the child has to be given many tests to prepare him/her for the real test. The child learns to read the questions carefully, recall what is required, arrange what he/she knows in their mind, and write it down in the way that the educator desires and all these in the time given.
Everyone is a Winner
One major area to be considered when preparing children to take part in an evaluation is to convince them that there is no winning or losing. Everyone is a winner. Different grades are a mere indication of how much the child knows, how much he/she needs to work on. Thus, a child who gets 50% realizes that he/she knows 50% of the paper and needs to work towards understanding the other 50%. The child learns to analyze errors, and correct them. That is why an evaluation is not an end in itself. After the marks have been given, the child has to be encouraged to take the test again.
Another way of preparing the nervous child is to tell the child that the sun is going to rise and shine the next day, no matter what; which is to say that the world has not come to an end merely because the child has not, in his/her mind, done well. Conventional standards do not work on all children; some never fit into the groove. But, that is not either to diminish the importance of evaluation, formal and informal, or to make it the be-all and end-all of what the child is about.
Fair Chances for Students
Children are works-in-progress, and at no time are their own individual and special abilities to be taken lightly. There has to be a fair chance given to everyone. In fact, evaluation should be an on-going process, with formal testing only a part of it. Children have to be encouraged to see where they have done well, and praised for work done correctly. At the same time, they have to be taught to take ‘defeat’ or poor grades in stride. Results of evaluation are not a reflection of who they are as people, but of certain skills which they can, with a little hard work and the right attitude, work on, work towards, and learn.
If a child is given the confidence to make errors, then he/she will learn faster and better. The child has to learn that all of adult life is a form of evaluation. Parents and educators should never put pressure on children to perform, or worse, penalize them for so-called-poor performance, but encourage them to give of their best, and enjoy what they are doing. Further, analyzing what went wrong, if one may call it that, in an emotionally-secure, non-judgmental atmosphere makes children aware of where they can improve and gives them the confidence to do so.
If every evaluation is taken as a learning experience, it benefits the children.
Missed the previous articles in our Student Assessment and Evaluation series? Here they are.
Deciding the Best Student Assessments
Mastering the Challenges of Student Evaluation
Involving Students in the Evaluation Process
Advantages of Classroom Student Feedback