GLEANER: As a teacher for more than 20 years and curriculum, instruction and assessment specialist, I am compelled to add my voice to the ongoing discourse on the Primary Exit Profile (PEP).
PEP is an achievement assessment and, as such, it includes ALL the various methods for determining the extent to which students are achieving the intended learning outcomes (objectives) of instruction based on the curriculum. The Grade Six Assessment Test (GSAT) was an exam that included only ONE form of assessment (traditional assessment).
The shift now with PEP is to move away from lower-order thinking skills to higher-order thinking skills. As such, there is the shift from only traditional assessment to alternative assessment, authentic assessment and performance assessment.
Traditional assessment refers to paper-and-pencil test that includes true-false, multiple-choice, matching, interpretive exercise, shot-answer, restricted-response and extended-response (essay).
Alternative assessment refers to assessments other than the traditional assessment outlined above, and so it would include authentic and performance assessments.
Authentic assessment reflects real-life situations and performance assessment requires the students to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and skills by actually performing a task or set of tasks. So with PEP, there is the shift from assessing knowledge and comprehension (lower-order thinking skills) to assessing application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation (higher-order thinking skills).
The National Standards Curriculum (NSC) is geared towards teaching better, which will result in assessing better. So gone are the days now of having an assessment entirely of multiple-choice items. Students are now required to write, supply, construct and produce answers rather than just select, choose, and identify an answer from those given.
This new curriculum, which includes a shift in the way teachers teach, will result in students developing critical-thinking skills as required by the new assessment, PEP.
PEP will better prepare students for the secondary level, tertiary level, and the world of work.
This shift will require more work on the part of the teachers and students, which will result in learning being more meaningful and lasting.
If teachers are not ready for this shift, it is saying that they are not properly trained? If this is so, there needs to be a rethinking of how we trained our teachers in this country. The truth is that teachers should be teaching to develop critical thinking in our students from ever since and not teaching to the test, as was the case with the GSAT.
I urge all stakeholders, teachers and parents to unite on this great initiative for the success of our students who are our future, so let us teach them better and assess them better.
I am also recommending continuous training of our teachers who are implementing the curriculum. Both in-service and pre-service teachers need to be fully equipped to effectively and efficiently deliver the new curriculum (NSC) and assessment (PEP).
I recall years ago when there was the Reform of Secondary Education curriculum, there were teacher-trainers assigned to the different regions who would see to the effective implementation of the curriculum. I was one of those teacher-trainers who would visit the schools, observe classes, and conduct workshops/training for the teachers. This is something the Ministry of Education could think of implementing. It is not late to do so.
So teachers, parents, other stakeholders, I urge you not to be too anxious or fearful of this shift. I encourage you to read or reread my Letter of the Day titled ‘Bye GSAT, welcome PEP’, which was published in 2012.
CAPTION: Travaune Fuller looks at his GSAT paper during day one of the exam earlier this year. File