This above all - to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as night follows day, thou canst not then be false to any man". William Shakespeare
Let me take this scenario into our schools and the outcomes that our learners achieve. I want to ask a series of questions that I find myself wondering about. So here goes.
Is the academic assessment of learners a process filled with honesty or has it descended into a series of administrative tasks? Assessment comes into stark focus in the 4th term given the promotion and progression of learners in the system. Have you ever asked yourself how much of this is actually real, i.e., the academic outcomes per learner? Is it really a try indicator of a child's ability to succeed in life?
Do you wonder how much of an impact parents have had on tasks and assignments submitted by learners? Or not, where parents are absent? How do you as an educator assess these pieces? Do you find yourself wondering but go ahead and pretend it was all the work of the learner? Do you convince yourself that the submission is better than non-submission, irrespective of your discomfort? Do you provide feedback on these assessment pieces or discuss the contents with the learners or is your approach "what's-done-is-done?"
Let me go further. When you mark, are you true to your memorandum? Is the memorandum quality assured? Peer-reviewed? Or is it simply the one from the last three years? Do you become more lenient as the day/night wears on or stricter in your marking? When you come across a learner you dislike, do you change your position from positive marking to negative marking? Do you find yourself being more accommodating towards learners you like, whether race-driven, cultural sameness or not? When a learner falls short of passing, is your leniency, or not, influenced by the afore-mentioned? Do you believe assessment is a nice form of getting back at learners who you view as tardy, lazy or slow?
When your scripts are moderated, are you sure they were? Or was the addition of the marks to make the grand total the only thing checked? Do you supply the scripts for moderation or are they randomly sampled? Is there moderation at all?
When discussions are held around learners who marginally fail the grade, what indicators are used to re-look each child? Or do you believe a fail-is-a-fail and no discussion is needed? Do you accept that learners failing might be as a result of teachers not teaching well or do you mitigate by blaming the loaded curriculum?
You may think I'm being cynical but often, at this time of the year, discussions around learners' academic outcomes become heated terrain, where adults point fingers at each other and academic arguments punctuate discussion to justify failing learners. Having found myself in the presence of such animated exchanges, I regularly wonder what the learners would say about us if they had the opportunity to assess our performance. Something to think about as we near the closing of the school academic year and schools report on their success and many learners must face the prospect of failing. When this realization dawns for them, was the process that led to this point, an honest one in all respects?