Beyond grades

Our daily lives generate a massive amount of data that has spawned new tech companies who collect, clean and analyse our data as we interact with different technologies. Smart algorithms are modelled with our data to build a digital version of an individual and creating a personalised experience. While within the school environment, things are moving at a snail pace. There is a lack of investment in educational technologies in classrooms to help students become better learners. The system relies heavily on standardised examination conducted at the end of each key stage.

Countless researches have shown that the standardised examination is not a reliable measure of what students have learned. Teacher are teaching to the test, while students are becoming better at memorising information that can be regurgitated on the exam day only to be forgotten a month later. In a world filled with data, should schools look at systems to collect data and model a more accurate depiction of a student? Such information can be used in understanding students learning style plus feed them content tailored to their interest. If grades are an incomplete representation of a students ability or potential, perhaps gathering the right data can help give a more holistic view of each student.

Grades are the problem.

In our current system, grades are viewed as the end-goal of students learning. This type of mentality hinders students from pursuing a life long learning. If learned content is not likely to show up on the test, there is almost a sense of what's the point of learning this topic. The grading system becomes a barrier that traps both teachers and student to be tunnel visioned.

So what are grades for? If they aren't a depiction of how intelligent a student is? Can't be used as a metric for what students have learned? Doesn't reflect a student potential? Why is the system still obsessed with giving these out to students?

Today's business leaders often talk about the inadequacy of some top students to perform well at their job for various reasons. The education system gives students a false perception of learned subjects knowledge through its standardised and grading system. But the workplace requires actual problems solvers and students struggle with the concept of synthesising information from different field and deriving meaningful solutions.

Frequency of feedback

It is difficult to tell if a student has understood what they are learning. The frequency of the feedback students receive also attributes to this problem. With focus placed on the final exams, students tend to pay less attention to in-class assignments or homework for various reasons, which varies based on the ability set of the student in question. In general, the focus of this blog is how the students at the bottom sets are performing and what can be done to help them fulfil their potential.

One of the problems hindering students from getting frequent feedback is class size. In a class of 30+ students, it is difficult for a teacher to offer weekly feedback on how a student has progressed, including identifying areas that students should focus on to move to the next stage of their learning. If indeed feedbacks were provided, the information will be overwhelming to students due to the number of subjects they cover each week. An alternative is to focus on EBacc subjects, but this will raise concern in regards to neglection of art subjects.

Students in the lower set require constant feedback on their learning to identify areas that need urgent improvement to stop them falling behind their peers. Education in its current state is failing one-third of the school students to make the other two-third look good.

21st-century students

Education has always taken the stance that it is helping students prepare for the real world. An essential skill required today in the real world is problem-solving. Has the system made the necessary adjustments to make sure that the next generation is equipped with the right skills to solve the challenges they will encounter as they grow older? Modern forms of communication and transportation have created a global community where we are made aware of all the challenges faced in different region of the world and the impact this has on the health of the planet.

On the United Nations Website, Global Overview. There's a list of twenty-four topics that demands the collaboration of everyone on the planet for these goals to be accomplished. Suppose the UK education system can select a few of these issues. They can serve as intrinsic motivation as to why education is crucial and the contribution they are making to the broader global community. Such broader focus can give student context to their learning, replacing the current focus on attaining high grades, which does not solve any practical issue in the real world.

Firstly the system should provide students with the tools and space that allows them to work within a team or independently. There needs to be an element of choice given to each student to pick and choose which problem best suit their life interest. Today's students are global citizens irrespective of their country or continent. COVID19 has shown us that an issue that affects one part of the world has a global consequence, and its time, we started educating the next generation to think beyond home country.

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