Meaning of Scores for teachers and students…

Based on your personal experience, are scores able to effectively inform both teachers and students about learning progress in class?  Do teachers and students share common interpretations of scores? Or has it been a more common case that scores are mere numbers that are processed to fill in report cards?  

Tests….exams….quizzes…all these take me back into my school/college days where the result days used to be filled with anxiety , apprehensions, feeling of being sick :-(( In those days, traditional schooling was the norm and a student’s entire life was dependent only on numbers, the so called scores.  High scores meant that the student was intelligent, hard working, smart and so on. Low scores meant that the student was dumb, lazy, good for nothing chap. The scores divided the class into haves….and the have nots…:-( This system did not recognize that a student might be bright but is not good in writing a test, or is not fast enough to follow the time limit, or would perform better in more student friendly scenario.

Now since I am on the other side of the fence (as an educator), I feel, scores tell me so little about my students. Each year, my class is filled with students who not only come from different backgrounds but also learn in different styles and at different paces (something that was unknown to us in the past). A simple paper-pencil test cannot truthfully display my learners knowledge and depth of their understanding.

I understand that scores have a value and certain situations demand paper-pencil tests. However, these tests should hold a very small part in a teacher’s repertoire.

A formative/summative project/performance etc give a better understanding about a student’s learning as they assess not only theoretical knowledge but also skills like social skills, being able to work with others, communication skills, etc. These formative/summative tasks use rubrics and these rubrics are not that fearsome for students. For eg, in my school, all our rubrics/checklist contain the following four standards- exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, approaching expectations and needs further improvement. Even if a student gets a mark under the last two categories, it softens the blow as it is descriptive.

I do give tests/quiz to my students, but these have a minuscule weight in deciding the progression of the student.


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