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Monday, 10 February 2014

From Conventional Assessment Practices to Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE): A Review of Best Practices

Reproducing the article on CCE by our expert.  

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From Conventional Assessment Practices to Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE): A Review of Best Practices
By Rachna Swarup, NIIT Ltd.
It’s been a long and arduous road- the transition is still on. Moving from Conventional assessment practices to Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation is taking its time, and is taking its toll on all. But all are beginning to realize that it’s a journey worth taking. CCE has compelled schools to take a fresh look at the entire teaching-learning process as well as all the support processes associated with it. As schools adopt this practice, they begin to realize what all it entails, what corresponding modifications the management will have to make to support it, and what it means in effect for teachers, students and parents.
It has compelled all to think about classroom practices, teaching strategies, the very objectives of student assessment, the nature of communication with students and parents, transparency, answerability, diagnosis, remediation and above all, pushed us into being truly child centric.
It drives us to take a holistic approach to learning that encompasses more than what occurs in the classroom. Lifelong learning is a philosophy that involves the development of knowledge, skills and values throughout all stages of a person’s life—from early childhood through adulthood. It also recognizes that learning is not just an intellectual process, but one that permeates all aspects of an individual's life, including their role in the community, performance in the workplace, personal development and physical well-being.
I would like to link the goals of comprehensive and continuous evaluation to the 4 pillars of learning as stated by Delors who provided a conceptual framework of lifelong learning. UNESCO’s International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century (under the leadership of Jacques Delors, the former president of the European Commission) submitted its report in 1996 titled-Learning: The Treasure Within. This presented a model that organized lifelong learning into four pillars: Learning to Know, Learning to Do, Learning to Live Together, and Learning to Be.
·    Learning to Know involves the development of knowledge and skills that are needed to function in the world. These skills include literacy, numeracy and critical thinking.
·    Learning to Do involves the acquisition of skills that are often linked to occupational success, such as computer training, managerial training and apprenticeships.
·    Learning to Live Together involves the development of social skills and values such as respect and concern for others, social and inter-personal skills and an appreciation of the diversity of people.
·    Learning to Be involves activities that foster personal development (body, mind and spirit) and contribute to creativity, personal discovery and an appreciation of the inherent value provided by these pursuits.
CCE, if implemented in the intended spirit, will best reflect the full spectrum of learning as proposed by the four pillar framework. It will help us achieve all these and ultimately create lifelong learning.
As I tour the country and visit schools, I come across some of the practices that are being followed in different schools while implementing CCE. I would like to share some of the best ones with you.
Best Practices of School Managements
Student-Teacher Ratio: Since the demands on the teacher as well as the learner have undergone a change with the introduction of CCE, school managements have risen to the occasion and brought in greater number of teachers to improve the student-teacher ratio.
Modifications in Time Tables and School Calendars: Supportive school managements have recognized that teachers need more time for sharing and reflection. So they are actually modifying the schedules, fitting in common time for information gathering, information processing, judgment forming, and decision-making. The school calendar now reflects schedules for such activities that help in reaching scholastic and co-scholastic goals.
Identification of Teacher Training needs: Schools are identifying training needs of teachers based on the demands of CCE. They organize training for teachers in areas like:
·    Knowledge and ability to construct assessment tools that are criterion based appropriate for assessing the specific parameters.
·    Comprehensive evaluation of competencies as well as personality traits and attitudes.
·    The maintenance of records.
·    Requirement of knowledge and skills of evaluation, commitment, and assistance to provide remedial teaching on part of the teacher.
·    To identify learning difficulties in mastering certain competencies and the intensity of such learning difficulties.
·    To improve students’ learning through diagnosis of their performance.
·    To improve or alter instructional strategies to enhance the quality of teaching.
·    To strengthen evaluation procedure itself.
·    Development of learning activities to target multiple objectives
Re-allocation of funds and resources:
Reallocation of funds and resources is being done by most school managements to cater for more teachers, more computers, more technological aids, books, more excursions, competitions, health checkups, better facilities for sports and co-curricular activities, teachers’ training and other ongoing activities related to CCE.
Measuring and monitoring: To be on the path of quality, schools are getting into the practice of reviewing policies, student learning, teaching strategies used by teachers, examination results and all such parameters that constitute a good school. This helps in measurement and analysis of practices, thereby making the entire approach more systematic and scientific.
Instructional Leadership: School Leaders are now spending more time, resources & effort in issues related to teaching & learning. They are spending quality time in discussing instructional strategies, curriculum mapping & addressing academic issues.
Best Practices among teachers.
Lesson Planning: This has changed completely in some schools, where the lesson plan is actually a design for a learning activity through which teachers are targeting multiple learning objectives, both for scholastic and co-scholastic areas of learning. Besides having objectives to cater to scholastic content, these learning activities are targeting 21st century skill development in students.
Up gradation of ICT Skills of Teachers: To cope with the demands of CCE implementation, teachers are upgrading their ICT skills, not only from the perspective of record keeping or maintenance of student portfolios etc, but also for integrating it with pedagogy. The use of technology is apparent in some schools where it is a common practice to record a learning activity on video. There are finally ICT courses available that are specially designed for teachers.
Observation skills: Under the CCE scheme, it becomes even more important for all teachers to be good observers. The need to observe, record, analyze and grade all aspects of a child’s development has created a very special requirement for excellent observation skills in teachers. Teachers need to be keen observers not just of student performance and behavior, but also of the transition that a learner makes when he/she is on the path of improvement. I have come across some observations made by teachers that are detailed, objective and relevant.
Planning and Co-ordination: To implement CCE successfully, teachers have to sit together, collaborate, plan and share. Peers, who were previously looked upon as competitors, or at best, people to be tolerated at work place, are today, an essential aspect of a teacher’s support system. Peer observations, meetings with same-subject or same-class faculty, formal and informal interactions while discussing and assigning grades to students- have all helped the faculty come closer together. To me, it’s a joy to listen to the highly enriched staffroom conversation where teachers are discussing strategies on how to create effective learning and how to be fair while grading students.
Research: CCE has pushed teachers to read, research, and search for material, activities, and alternative formative assessment strategies. They are visiting the library more, accessing the internet and blogging to find out what teachers all over the world are doing. This habit of research and reading has been sadly lacking in those very people who are meant to encourage it among children! Those who still avoid it, are finding that they are left far behind.
Data driven decisions: Teachers have gone on ‘gut feel’ and intuition for a long time. Those are needed, but what are also required are objectivity, transparency and answerability. All this is beginning to seep into the teacher’s life as she battles with voluminous data that is generated through several rounds of formative assessments, summative assessments, observations, anecdotal records, student tracking records and other details. This data is supposed to show her the path ahead so that she can prepare her students better. I notice that teachers are not only beginning to generate data, but also to analyze it, and use it as an input into their future planning.
Diagnosis and Remediation: CCE has clarified that the evaluation is not merely the assessment of the student, but it is an evaluation of the teachers’ teaching strategies. It is not only concerned with the appraisal of achievement, but also with its improvement. So teachers are more serious about diagnosis and remediation. I know of teachers who will now spend more time and effort to support students who need to be motivated by using alternate teaching strategies. With the traditional system as well there were teachers who were staying back and spending time with students, who needed support, but the outlook has changed, and the support provided is more specific and meaningful.
Innovative techniques: Continuous and comprehensive evaluation necessitates the use of multiple evaluation techniques and tools in addition to certain conventional ones. The teacher selects the most appropriate technique for a situation and develops the necessary tools for the same, and decides upon the periodicity and timing of evaluation. This is being done effectively in some schools.
Transparency in Evaluation: Teachers are creating & sharing rubrics, assessment criteria & parameters with students before the activity or project, bringing greater transparency in the assessment system which was previously a more secretive affair.
Greater Professionalism: Since systems are in place and effectiveness and efficiency is measurable, teachers have finally become more professional in their day to day working. In order to maintain transparency, teachers are working with commitment, creativity, compassion, collaboration and ushering in an era where the guru can again receive the respect and status that he truly deserves.
Best practices and impact on Students
Gaining recognition and opportunities: A learner, who has never scored well in the traditional system, is now boasting of high grades as he is being evaluated for all his strengths. His high grade points in co-scholastic areas actually impact his overall grading. He is today a more confident and accepted individual and no longer lives with the stigma of being a low achiever.
Getting support: Students are supported more effectively based on the diagnosis and remedies planned for him. His confidence in the Teacher, who can solve his problems, is much greater. His rapport and relationship with the teacher as well as with his peers improves as he has to work in close collaboration with others during project work, role play, group presentations and other activities that he now has to be a part of.
Developing 21st century skills: Due to the inclusion of Life Skill education as a formal part of the curriculum under the CCE scheme, students are better prepared for the real world. I have seen student projects that reflect all the skills of head and heart that the child will need in the real world.
Maintaining own portfolio: In some schools of Delhi, I have seen students maintaining their own detailed portfolios throughout the year. This contains details of their participation and achievement in scholastic and co-scholastic activities. When the teachers need to grade him, the student has a one-on-one meeting with his teacher, and the grade allotted for a particular parameter is finalized mutually by them. This makes him a party to the process of grading bringing in transparency and flexibility in the approach. In this process, they mutually set fresh targets too for the student.
Research: The student has become a researcher as well. While he is on the computer, he not only plays games, he also looks up sites and blogs for reference material. Social networking sites are also being used as forums for discussions about projects and assignments.
Regular Study Habits: Students are developing regular study and work habits under the CCE system. They are no longer to be evaluated only on the basis of the year end examination for which they used to start studying only a month or two in advance. Now they have to be engaged all the time in their scholastic and co-scholastic activities. It helps them remain focused on tasks; maintain regularity and punctuality in work submission.
An active participant in the creation of learning and assessment: Finally the student today is an active creator of learning, rather than a passive receiver of information. When he researches, sifts through material to create presentations and projects, he actually uses higher order thinking skills to select, reflect, analyze, synthesize and collate data. During group work and peer collaboration, he brainstorms and discusses with others, thus constructing lifelong learning. Techniques of self assessment are making the learner more introspective.
Impact on students with special needs: Children with special needs are being assessed in a variety of ways, and need not be subjected to the harsh traditional system of assessment any more. Inclusion of such students in activities has become more common.
Reduction of stress levels: Students are more relaxed, stress free and supported by CCE as they are given several opportunities to prove themselves.
The best practices that I have enlisted, I must admit, are visible in a scattered way, some in one school, some in another. For these to become commonly practiced and implemented across the country in all school, would be the task at hand. The CBSE is organizing country-wide trainings in order to share some of these best practices among schools.
Continuous and Comprehensive evaluation facilitates student learning as well as their holistic development with its multiple evaluation tools and techniques and corrective measures. The comprehensive evaluation has helped in checking all the standards of performance in both scholastic and co-scholastic areas, but also in decision making regarding various aspects of teaching-learning process, promoting the students, increasing quality, efficiency, and accountability. It has brought in the concept of Assessment for learning, instead of assessment of learning.
If it is implemented in the manner that it was intended, it can become that instrument of change that was much needed in our school education system. It can usher in an era of experimentation, innovation and creativity, putting Indian School education on the global map.

To find out more, visit the following link: Continuous And Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) Training

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