In Denmark, we are not used to taking assessments in the way we do in this project. At least not at our school. We take some National Tests in Danish, math and English, but that is not every year. Besides that, we are testing the students in Danish and math every year at the end of the school year. We are using these tests as a basis of what the students have to work on in the next school year.
We are not used to make assessments throughout the school year, so the way we presents it to the students and the parents are very important. Some students might think it is a way of telling how good they are, and to compare the students to each other. It is very important that the students know that the assessments is a tool to help the teacher improve the teaching for the whole class and for the individual student, so that every students can become as good as possible. Also for the parents, it is important that they know, that it is the progress of the child that is important. It is a good thing to explain to the parents how the work with the assessments are done, and how the teachers are using them. Some parents are sceptical to the testing of children, but when explaining the work, it can be easier for them to understand why it is a good tool to the teachers.
In our municipality, they have just made a new vision on the teaching of students with a fundamental basis that says: “Every child and young people do the best that they can.” That is also the way we see teaching at our school and the future work with the assessments. The most important thing is not the starting point of the individual student or the class. The focus is on the development of the student, and the work they are doing. The teacher’s focus has to be on using the assessments to improve the lessons and its content in a way that support the students individually but also in the entire class.
It can be very difficult to explain to the students that the assessments are a way of helping both the teachers and the students, if they are not used to that way of working. Then it can easily be seen as a “contest” between the students on how good they are. Therefore, it is very important to practice this way of working with the students so they are used to take the assessments and using them as a guideline in their work. For the teachers it is important that a test, a task or other schoolwork is given back to the students with a feedback. The students have to get a recognition of the work they have done, the improvements they have made, and something they have to focus on from now on. The feedback is individual from student to student depending on their level and how they work best.
At our school, we have experienced a great support from both the parents and the students. We have used a parents/teachers meeting to inform the parents about the project. They have also been informed on how the teachers will work with the results of the assessments and the way the project is a great supplement to how we usually work.