Student assessment is at the heart of the teaching profession; it is a responsibility that is not borne lightly. Historically and etymologically, it is seen as a way of determining a student’s ‘worth’. Traditionally, assessments are based on test results and are accompanied by a comment, a score, a grade or a mark. Whatever form of assessment is used, the objective is always the same: to identify a student’s level on the scale of institutional expectations.
In recent years, we have seen real cultural change in the French approach to assessment, with the concept of positive assessment gaining ground. The aim of this type of assessment is no longer to determine a student’s worth, but to illustrate the extent of their learning at a certain point on their educational journey. We have moved on from a competitive assessment system, which ranked student performances according to how near (or how far) they came to institutional norms, to an individualised form of assessment allowing students locate where they are on their own personal learning pathway. The objectives to be met during the three-year school cycles* are clearly defined as are the interdisciplinary competencies and skills that are expected.
These changes have led us, in the French Section to reflect and modify the way we provide termly feedback on progress to you (as I previously outlined here and here). This year, we are continuing the changes with the following:
- The Learning Journey Book will continue in MS and GS, for this year, but will be replaced by Seesaw in PS. The assessment format and objectives remain the same, it is just the material that is changing. After our trial year with Seesaw last year, we came to realise that it is really is a highly practical integrated tool which allows parents and teachers to follow class life and children’s progress in one easily accessible platform.
- The 6ème class, which has been a part of cycle 3 since last year, will this year be a class “without marks”. Their termly feedback reports will look the same as those for CM1 and CM2, keeping assessment coherent in cycle 3.
- In secondary (from 6ème to Terminale) we will be using the Pronote platform for evaluation, assessment and school life in general. It is the platform used by most French schools and brings us perfectly in line with the new approach to assessment.
- Finally, for 6ème to 4ème classes taught by teachers from the British Secondary &High School (Sport, Music, Art and Chinese), we will no longer ask the BSHS teachers to ‘translate’ their grades and marks into French equivalents out of 20. Instead, we wish to emphasise the fact that our students are following two separate curricula and experiencing truly bilingual education; parents will from this year receive two types of termly feedback – one with the marks, comments and feedback from the French Section teachers according to the French method, and one from the BSHS teachers in keeping with the British method. If/ when you leave TES to go to another school or to return to France, the dual feedback system will make it clearer than ever that your children are getting the best of both worlds of education.
This letter, and all of last year’s letters, can now be accessed via the French Section Head of School blog. Along with the weekly letters, the blog will also feature articles and podcasts about developments in the French Section and the world of education. Let’s continue the conversation over there – your comments and feedback are more than welcome.
Have an excellent weekend.
*There are five cycles in the French education system. Cycle 1 (PS, MS, GS), Cycle 2 (CP, CE1, CE2), Cycle 3 (CM1, CM2, 6ème), Cycle 4 (5ème, 4ème, 3ème) and Lycée (2nde, 1ère and Terminale)