Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017

Can the End be the Beginning

Linking Curriculum Objectives and Assessments

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November 30, 2017

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Can the End be the Beginning

This article would not have happened if I had not come across a post on a professional networking website where new ideas were being shared and debated by the teaching community. There are many schools in India which are experimenting and are very progressive in their approach. However, it is equally true that for most of our young Indians these new approaches are far and few in between and for some they remain completely untouched. In this article I have tried to look at interventions initiated by the government and share a reliable way to help change seep through to young minds waiting out there…..

In my experience as an educator, I found some parents are disillusioned with assessment structure and want their children to focus on all aspects of schooling including sports, co- curricular activities and other events. While others want their wards to achieve academic success only. It is quite apparent that, in general, parents are dissatisfied with the system but have no other option but to be a part of it and have found their own ways to deal with it. Majority of schools prioritise student achievement in board classes and dissuade action research on new practices and approaches due to risks involved. Thus, the most influential years of personality development of a student are involved only in knowledge attainment and exam preparation. Few parents and schools opt for international programmes which bring rigour, engagement and assurance of quality for students and personality development. This scenario leads to concern for millions of students whose parents are not aware of other alternatives or not able to afford them. Can we, as a nation, not make quality education affordable?

Talking about interventions initiated by the government in this sector, the concern remains its effective implementation on the ground and ability to maximize the impact. The Government has taken a few initiatives in this direction. CABE met on 25 Oct 2016 and I am sharing a few achievements –  http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/Initiatives_AchievementsMHRD.pdf)

I would like to bring to the readers’ attention one initiative ’Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyan’ designed as a major intervention by MHRD. It is a convergent framework that aims at nurturing a spirit of inquiry and creativity, love for science and mathematics and use of technology amongst children and encourage those who show an inclination and talent for these subjects to be encouraged and supported to heights of academic excellence and research. CBSE (CBSE Circular NoAcad-34/2015) started Aavishkar quiz series in 2015 for primary, middle and secondary students. With initial round conducted at school level, two students from the school reach second round, conducted by CBSE itself. Out of 200184 https://data.gov.in/catalog/number-students) lower secondary schools registered with the CBSE, even if 50% schools participate the students compete amongst 200184(https://data.gov.in/catalog/number-students) students for two positions. CBSE gives away prizes to top 10 scorers in primary and middle school categories. In 2010 there were 51195106 students studying in CBSE secondary schools.(open government data platform https://data.gov.in/catalog/number-students) Majority of the students remain untouched by the intervention. It will enthuse very few and has the possibility of negative impact.

The Government is trying to bring change with RTE, Rashtriya Aavishkar Abhiyan (initiative under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) and latest with proposed school grading system. Department of School Education and Niti Aayog are jointly developing a School Education Quality Index (SEQI) in consultation with all States and UTs. This index aims to institutionalise a focus on improving education outcomes (learning, access, equity) as the principal aim of school education policy in India.

(http://mhrd.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/Initiatives_AchievementsMHRD.pdf). All interventions work on the principle of moving outside to inside – external inputs to force reform within. By redefining assessment principles and linking curriculum objectives to it, the change will happen from inside-curriculum planning, change in classroom dynamics and pedagogical approach, thus spreading its impact like a ripple to all young minds. This will lead to everyone engaging in the holistic development of students which will be seen, felt and observed in their outlook, behaviour and approach. This will be faster, impacting all students individually, helping government achieve the vision of – ’With hope in their eyes and a yearning to learn, the youth of this great nation awaits a new paradigm of education that fosters knowledge with analytical skills, logical reasoning and the ability to imagine beyond the given’ as mentioned in the curriculum document.
(curriculum17/SrSecondary/Initial_pages_Vol1.pdf).

Objectives of the Curriculum.
The Curriculum prescribed aims to:
1. Enhance self-awareness and explore innate potential;
2. Promote capabilities related to goal setting, decision making and lifelong learning;
3. Develop thinking skills, problem solving and creativity;
4. Nurture communication and interpersonal skills;
5. Inculcate values;
6. Foster cultural learning and international understanding in an interdependent society;
7. Acquire the ability to utilize technology and information for the betterment of humankind;
8. Strengthen knowledge and attitude related to livelihood skills;
9. Develop the ability to appreciate art and showcase talents;
10. Promote physical fitness, health and well-being.
(Curriculum17/SrSecondary/Initial_pages_Vol.1.pdf )

Designing assessment instruments with above guidelines should be kept as goals to be achieved supported by good pedagogy and engagement, while taking into account the latest in learning theory. If the aim of the CBSE Senior secondary curriculum is to achieve the development of students who are knowledgeable with analytical skills, logical reasoning and have the ability to imagine beyond the given then these characteristics of the same, should be reflected in the assessment system. It is inevitable that what is not assessed is not valued by the school system and probably is overlooked completely.

Curriculum Objectives defined in CBSE curriculum

What the CBSE expects the curriculum to achieve for individual student is the crux of the problem and a differentiating factor with some of the international curricula, where the assessments are linked to curricular goals of the programme resulting in developing those attributes in the students.

Although the primary role of any summative assessment is that of assessing the level of student understanding, achievement of knowledge and its application but it is a very limited view. I believe assessments should support achievement of curricular goals. One way of processing it is shown image-

Subject committees first need to ensure that each group – science, commerce and humanities pass through development of similar curricular goals. The linkage between the two will lead to rethink and modification of question paper design as well as other assessment tools. Illustrating it further let’s take an example of Research project, which needs to be original and authentic, bringing in ethical practice. Co scholastic components will be internally graded but externally moderated leading schools and students to participate whole heartedly in true spirit and bringing in standardisation in practices and assessments. CBSE could randomise certain numbers for submission term wise assessment as evidence and compliance with the goals of the co-scholastic components. Implication of the changed assessment will have impact in four core areas

1. Rigorous Engagement: The students will be more engaged and focused on skill development in their scholastic subjects. Proper integration of the core co-scholastic component and evidence collection, submission to board along with external moderation will ensure proper implementation of the programme in true spirit.

2. Defined attribute development: With assessment principles focused on the curriculum objective, CBSE’s endeavor is to bring problem solving, critical thinking, values of community service, into the classroom along with subject specific skill development. This holistic and rigorous approach will lead to development of all aspects – emotional, physical, academic and spiritual-a balanced personality.

3. Teacher training: Teachers remain focused on student academic achievement hence linkage between curriculum objective and assessment tools within the subject domain will help in supporting training and learning skills and techniques.

4. Trickle down effect: This change will lead to similar changes across school levels leading to rigour and balanced curriculum implementation at all levels.

This unraveling of integrated and progressive approach will lead to all round development of students and in more synergetic approach to assessment.

I would love to hear views from my colleagues on my thoughts. My email id is sonaloakridge@yahoo.co.in

A passionate educator with over two decades of experience in CBSE,CIE and IB curriculum, who holds postgraduate degree in education, mathematics .I have taught mathematics and theory of knowledge in top international schools of repute .Teaching and learning, curriculum planning and assessments are my core areas of expertise.
I can be reached at sonaloakridge@yahoo.co.in

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