THE EDITOR, Sir:
I WRITE to add my voice in welcoming the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) which is proposed to replace the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). I have always contended that the GSAT was not living up to the expectations and attributes of a true achievement assessment test, which it is supposed to be. Achievement assessment includes all of the various methods and procedures for determining the extent to which students are achieving the intended learning outcomes of instruction. As it is now, the GSAT is a paper-and-pencil test/exam, except for the communication task.
I welcome the proposed components of the PEP, which embraces the definition of achievement assessment. The proposed components seek to allow students to be engaged in a wider variety of learning experiences and assessment modes. The GSAT tends to narrow the curriculum to learning tasks that emphasise recall, accumulation of knowledge and unidirectional flow of information from the teacher to the student. The components of PEP include: ability skills, higher order thinking skills (HOTS) and teacher assessments. I welcome this format as it embraces alternative assessments and takes into account the teacher assessments such as book reviews and community service.
I would suggest the following teacher assessments for great considerations: portfolios, projects, simulations, journals, human/tableau/role play/dramatisation/mime, interviews, models, reflections and concept maps. This expanded assessment practice will find favour in finding out what students know, and not just what they don't know. The students will, therefore, become more motivated and active in their own learning, reflecting on their own learning and engaging in dialogue with the world. Assessment will now become assessment for learning and assessment as learning instead of assessment of learning.
I am also recommending that the ministry of education and the Jamaica Teachers' Association put in place seminars and workshops for teachers to be trained to construct valid teacher-assessment instruments and scoring devices such as checklists, rating scales and rubrics.
Let us, therefore, not forget the purpose of assessment, which is to improve learning and development.
University of Technology, Jamaica