Well he’s done it again, that Alan Hamilton – he’s got me thinking. We were having a brief late night exchange last night on Twitter ( where else!) about internal assessment , which will soon be all we have in Curriculum for Excellence (S1-S3)and it made me think. I get the feeling that while some teachers are happy to internally assess their pupils, many are slightly uncomfortable with internal assessment; they may feel happy with their own assessment of where a child is, but worry more about how their assessment measures up to that of colleagues in other schools. Do we have shared understandings of the criteria? Are the performances or tasks we assess standard and are we objective enough when we assess them? Are we looking lightweight? Should we tighten up?
Good teachers know their pupils, know what they are capable of and how to get the best out of each of them. If ever there was a time for teachers to start trusting their own professional knowledge, expertise and judgement it is now – we need to get good at internal assessment. Universities have always internally assessed, internally set exams and coursework (also with external moderation) and the value of the awards they bestow is more or less taken for granted. The staff certainly don’t seem wracked with self doubt about whether or not they are doing it properly.
Of course teachers can do this – starting local, sharing understandings of what the standards are, what they mean and what a good one looks like are all truisms and will be happening day in, day out in schools everywhere. The important thing is to have the debate – have the conversations with colleagues in your corridor/department/school/cluster/authority and also nationally: we now have ways and means of doing this that haven’t previously been at our disposal – no Glow or Twitter in 5-14 days, so lets use them, and have confidence in our own professional judgement. Let the conversations begin!!