Wednesday, 6 July, 2022
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Are PEC and JSC Right Way to Assess Students’ Performance?

Are PEC and JSC Right Way to Assess Students’ Performance?

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The results of Primary Education Completion (PEC), its equivalent Ebtedayee, and Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations were published on the last day of the year 2019. A total of 55,65,320 students sat for PEC, Ebtedayee, JSC and JDC examinations. Both the pass percentage and the GPA-5 holders increased in 2019 than that of 2018. However, does it mean that we have assessed our child learners perfectly?

It’s undoubtedly a complex task to assess the performance of the children through traditional ways of assessment system. The summative assessment that entails some traditional questions asking learners to answer them in two or more hours does hardly reflect the real talent of the young learners. Moreover, to assess the children’s academic and intellectual development we don’t have any professional body like education boards and no system such as formative assessment. Only the government officials who are not teachers at all run the significant activities of children’s assessment. And the teachers engaged in primary teaching hardly get any training on child psychology. The interesting thing is the whole society, guardians, teachers, students, schools and ministry take into account seriously the number of students pass in these examinations and the grades they acquire. The game does not end here, they are given scholarship and other incentives on the basis of these results. When child psychology calls for close observation towards the child learners and their gradual development, we put emphasis on getting marks and grades. We just make some questions and ask the learners to answer them as we do in case of adult learners that exactly speak about the assessment of their performance.

In the current practice, the guardians want to know whether their children have got 80 or 90 percent or more marks in Mathematics and English or Bengali. They hardly or never show any interest to learn what their children have really achieved or whether they can read Bengali or English well, whether they can do simple mathematical problems and have any idea about general science or they are developing socially. They show more interest to see that their children have obtained good grades. This is, of course, not their problem. This is the usual picture of the whole system and society and all related people are responsible for it. Admission, job, or academic performance everything is assessed or done on the basis of marks students obtain, nobody shows interest to see what they have learned or achieved. Only marks do not show the hidden potential or real talents of the learners though it is the objective of education to identify and discover the latent talents of the learners. In the formative assessment system guardians will be informed of the gradual development of the students, not the marks. If it can be introduced the real development of the students will happen and they can be freed from anxiety of the examination which is the most stressful part of teaching learning process.

Teachers must observe if the pupils are responding to the activities of the class such as enjoying and participating in the activities, interacting with the teacher, mixing with other students, and playing games.

Suppose, ‘Rahat’ did not mix with his classmates at the initial stages but now he is doing it, playing with them. Sabbir hesitates to come to the board whenever he is asked. Now he comes to the board without any hesitation or willingly. These things must be known to the guardians whether their sons or daughters are attentive to their studies, they answer and ask questions in the classroom. Whether they take part in the discussion of textual problems, games, group work, pair work and mix with their classmates, and talk to them. Teachers should reflect these things in the pupils’ report card. The class teacher will take these activities into account and this is the result of children. Their assessment should be done in this way but what we do?

Many students who do not do well under exam conditions are branded as ‘less intelligent’ or ‘weaker’ than those who achieve higher exam results. Branding students who do not perform well in exams as less intelligent is a great disservice to pupils. When we try to judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. In the same way if we judge a student’s intelligence and ability based on their exam score we may not see them for their true potential they really have. A teacher is unable to confidently judge a child’s learning experiences through the same style for all children. It is known to us that each child is different and has different learning styles, yet when we assess them we don’t offer any of these differences. These would then give an inaccurate reflection of a student’s progress and learning abilities.

The clarity, correctness, correct pronunciation, ability to listen, conversation with correct intonation, asking questions, expressing emotion, and jumbled words or sentences to be asked to write in an organised way. Good handwriting is to be evaluated. In terms of reading time, pronunciation, measuring motion, listening ability will also be judged. Utmost care should be taken to judge these abilities of the learners. Assessment of children does not necessarily mean to throw the child learners into a competitive situation rather it should be discovering their latent talents. Without awarding numbers to the students their behaviour, habit, curiosity to learn, socialization process should be observed by the teachers which might be a real and large area of research for them. While unveiling the research findings or results, teachers should explain the performance of the learners critically and analyse their activities in the class and outside the class. Let us wait for these days when we will be able to assess our learners giving weightage to these aspects.

Finally, we must salute the tiny tots who had to undergo tremendous physical and mental stress to sit for the PEC, Ebteayee, JSC and JDC examinations. Whatever way we have assessed them, it is sure that we put them into a deep critical situation and they have come out successful though some could not because of our applying the age-old method. Hearty congratulations to all who attended the exams.

 

The writer works as an Education Specialist in BRAC Education Programme