what should be going on in the history classroom, and then, how do we assess it? ....
History is not a linear subject, and sometimes what pupils have learnt cannot be measured, or only becomes apparent after many years, and we should not be afraid to say we cannot measure it. But we must try...
The skills we regard as important - understanding, interpretation, sifting evidence and so on - are much harder to measure and require precision in drafting of assignments to be able to measure changes. There are no easy answers to this. How do you measure emotion, feeling, understanding of 'why' things take place?
The value of ICT in measuring pupil progress is a really important issue, especially as two (related) developments seem to be happening apace (worryingly):
1. Use of electronic means of tracking and monitoring pupil progress, so that data is available to a wide audience in many schools, almost 'on demand', and is not the preserve of the teacher/ student/ department. this may be a good thing in some ways - but has the very obvious drawback that all sorts of assumptions and conclusions can be made by comparing such data - across time, across depts etc. Yet there is no guarantee AT ALL that any such comparisons are valid given the lack of standardisation that accompanies it.
2. The jump to use the NC levels as the means by which these 'assessments' are expressed (easy to compare! NOT). I won't re-open old wounds by restating my very strong misgivings about using these levels for such a purpose - suffice to say here that by jumping on this bandwagon and pretending we are all somehow doing the same thing, and objectively measuring the progress of our pupils is not true, and such exercises are about administration, not pupil advancement.
As for the use of on-line quizzez etc, I can add nothing to Andrew Field's postings(with which I heartily concur), so I won't.
As for what we do in my own school, Andy:
1. I'm not the HoD, so I do as I'm told, which is grade work A-E
2. No, fortunately as yet we are not required to tie our assessments down to the reporting system - we are not YET expected to mark in levels and then perform some sort of ridiculous averaging process to be able 'to say for certain where pupils are' at any point in any key stage (what nonsense) though I fear this will come.
3. I am myself struggling with several different types of assessment at once, to the probable huge confusion of my pupils (although they don't appear to be confused, or in the least bit bothered. I'm the one doing the agonising). My primary mantra is that my assessment is for moving the pupils on primarily, so a very small number of very focused comments is my preferred method so far, with no grades or marks at all, though I use others too whilst I am working through what I think works. I don't have the answer - I just know that a slavish adherence to the NC level descriptors IS NOT IT.