Assessment mythbusters

Is eight a good grade? Are grades affected by the pupil’s disposition? Are pupils compared to each other? 

The assessment mythbusters are here to bust some common myths about assessment in basic education! 

X “Assessment is not useful.” Busted! 

Being assessed and receiving feedback help pupils learn. Assessment also makes it easier for the teacher to develop their own work and take the needs of pupils into consideration in teaching. For example, exams help teachers see the areas that pupils need more teaching in. 

Assessment is, for the most part, continuous in nature. This means that the teacher assesses pupils and provides them with feedback as part of daily teaching throughout the school year. The teacher is constantly observing their pupils’ learning and interacting with them. 

Feedback encourages pupils to examine and self-assess their own development. In other words, feedback helps pupils to manage their own learning, set personal goals and use learning methods suitable for them. 

X “Assessment is about comparing pupils to each other.” Busted! 

Assessment is always individual. Pupils are never compared to one another. Instead, each pupil is assessed relative to their own progress and the assessment criteria. 

General and subject-specific assessment criteria are defined in the school curriculum. They describe the level required for a grade of 8 or a verbal assessment corresponding to good competence. 

The assessment criteria are always based on the objectives set for learning These learning objectives are also recorded in the school curriculum. Teachers are responsible for making sure that pupils and their guardians are aware of the assessment criteria. 

X “Assessment is based on exams alone.” Busted! 

Assessment is based on the pupil’s competence, schoolwork and behaviour. The teacher monitors all of these areas in a comprehensive manner. In addition to traditional exams, pupils can demonstrate their competence during lessons and in group work, for example. 

The school year assessment focuses on assessing how well the pupil has achieved the learning objectives set for their grade in the subject in question. The pupil’s progress is assessed in relation to their previous competence and the learning objectives. The pupil’s capacity to work independently and in a group is also assessed. 

When it comes to assigning a grade, the pupil’s competence level is not the only determining factor. Assessment is also affected by progress, effort, activity and accomplished schoolwork. 

X “You cannot get a good grade in physical education unless you do sports as a hobby.” Busted! 

The curriculum defines grade-specific learning objectives and criteria for good competence for all school subjects. These also include artistic and practical subjects, such as physical education, visual arts and crafts. 

In artistic and practical subjects, the results of the pupil’s work do not usually affect their grade. A pupil can get a good grade in visual arts even if they are not very good at drawing, for example. The criteria for good competence in visual arts include the ability to make observations related to visual culture and apply different materials. The criteria do not include the ability to paint a pretty painting. 

Actively engaging in sports as a hobby can of course be useful in physical education classes. However, this is no different from the way in which interests and hobbies can be useful in any other subject. 

X “Eight is not a very good grade.” Busted! 

Guardians’ interpretations of grades are often influenced by their own memories of school. A grade of 8 was not necessarily considered very good in the past. However, nowadays the situation is different: a grade of 8 corresponds to good competence. Having a grade of eight in the school year report means that the pupil has achieved the learning objectives set for the subject for the grade in question. 

X “A shy pupil cannot get a good grade.” Busted! 

One of the criteria that affect assessment is the pupil’s activity during classes. However, activity during classes does not mean that the pupil needs to constantly talk during classes. Completing assignments and following the teaching are also forms of activity during class. 

The pupil’s personality or other personal characteristics cannot affect their assessment. The teacher must use a variety of methods in assessment and collect information about the pupil’s progress in various situations. A shy pupil can demonstrate their competence in written assignments, for example. With varied working methods, everyone gets to demonstrate their competence. 

Guardians can always discuss assessment and related practices with the teacher. Teachers are professionals who are able to consider pupils as individuals. Being shy, having difficulties with concentration or severe anxiety are no obstacles to receiving a good grade. 

X “You need to get a grade of ten for behaviour!” Busted! 

Many guardians look back on their own time at school and think that you need to get a grade of 10 for behaviour. However, the criteria for the behaviour grade have since changed. Nowadays the grade corresponding to good behaviour is 8. 

In addition to actual behaviour, the behaviour grade reflects things like the pupil’s meticulousness and working methods. A grade of 8 means that the pupil usually takes care of their schoolwork well, behaves appropriately, lets others work in peace, follows school rules and takes care of their assignments and possessions. 

X “You can suddenly have a grade of 4 on your school report with no warning.” Busted! 

Assessment is carried out continuously throughout studies. The teacher must provide the pupil and their guardian(s) with information on the pupil’s progress, work and behaviour on a frequent enough basis. Nowadays it is easy to follow your child’s school performance via Wilma records, for example. 

Sometimes a pupil may be at risk of failing a subject for the school year. In this situation, the teacher must discuss the matter with the pupil and their guardian(s) in good time. One of the aims of this discussion is to agree upon measures for supporting the pupil’s learning. 

X “The grade given by the teacher cannot be questioned.” Busted! 

School-home cooperation is an important part of assessment culture. The pupil and their guardian(s) have the right to receive information on assessment criteria and how they apply to the pupil’s assessment. The teacher must also record all the evidence that the pupil’s grade for the school year is based on. 

The pupil’s guardian(s) can always ask the teacher to explain all the factors that have affected the pupil’s grade. If necessary, the guardian(s) can request a clarification or rectification from the school principal. The principal will then decide on a new grade in collaboration with the teacher. 

Assessment terminology 

  • Assessment criteria are defined in the national core curriculum and local curricula. They are based on the objectives set for learning and describe the necessary level of competence on the basis of which pupils are assessed. 
  • Summative assessment means a collective assessment carried out at the end of a school year, for example. Its purpose is to determine how well the pupil has achieved the pre-determined level of competence. Summative assessments are usually expressed in the form of a number grade. 
  • Formative assessment means the continuous assessment of the learning process carried out during the school year. Its purpose is to support and steer learning. Formative assessments are usually verbal. 
  • School year assessments are carried out at the end of the school year. They are an assessment of the pupil’s progress and performance over the school year. 
  • Assessment during the studies refers to assessment carried out and feedback provided before the final assessment. It can include both summative and formative assessment. 
  • Final assessments express how well and to what extent the pupil has achieved the objectives set for different subjects in the national core curriculum for basic education at the end of their studies. Final assessments are carried out based on competence demonstrated during grades 7–9 in relation to the objectives of the subject syllabus and the final assessment criteria.