Fundació Jaume BofillUniversitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

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We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Debats d’Educació by giving the educational community the opportunity to air its views

Joan Mateo i Andrés
Joan Mateo i Andrés
Secretary for Educational Policies at the Department of Education of the Government of Catalonia

I am... Professor of Research Methods and Diagnosis in Education at the University of Barcelona and currently Secretary for Educational Policies at the Department of Education of the Government of Catalonia and Chairman of the Higher Assessment Council of Catalonia.

The three things I’ve learned

Assessment results are the quantums allowing multiple views of the education system. It is people who give them significance, meaning and importance.
1

“ASSESSMENT RESULTS MUST BASICALLY SERVE TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK AND GUIDE EDUCATIONAL ACTION”

The key to good governance lies in:

-Analysing (Spanish and international) educational contexts, identifying needs and clearly establishing clusters of targets to be achieved by the system.

-Sharing and debating the importance, necessity and appropriateness of the targets with the agents operating in the system. Prioritising them.

-Providing rankings for the whole system.

-Obtaining plenty of assessment information. Intensive analysis of it, with breakdowns. Returning it quickly, with explanations, to the agents, the community and society as a whole.

-In-depth study of the educational situation sketched out by the assessment process.

-Agreeing and deriving strategic improvement actions. Help and support for system operators to develop actions. Requiring commitment.

-Reviewing the results once the actions have been applied. Analysing their impact.

-Reinterpreting the new situation deriving from it and redefining new targets.  

2

THE LOGIC OF MODERN ASSESSMENT PLACES MORE EMPHASIS ON ITS ROLE AS A REVITALISING AGENT RATHER THAN FOR INSPECTION.

Assessment is possibly the educational area that has developed most in the last ten years. With the logic of control and the demand for responsibility from the last century (which remain important but subsidiary) and the current logic of continuous improvement, modern assessment basically revolves around the construction of the objective to be assessed. It is impossible to think about managing a quality centre without understanding the central role played by assessment in defining and developing it.

Along these lines, we consider that assessment and learning are two sides of the same coin, and thinking of them separately is an aberration. Assessment is the third dimension of learning and forms part of the process itself, giving it depth and facilitating learners’ metacognitive processes.

Does that mean it is impossible to derive demands for responsibility from assessment? Not at all... but contextualised in the global context of the dynamics that determine the development action to improve the objective assessed, never in isolation.  

3

ASSESSMENT IS ABOUT AN ENTIRE AXIOLOGICAL PROCESS. RESULTS ANALYSIS MUST LEAD TO THE GENERATION OF AN ASSESSMENT CULTURE.

With this statement we warn of the huge responsibility assessors have. To the conceptualisation of assessment as a great force sparking improvement processes and constructing the objective being assessed, we have to add its enormous importance in generating value.

Value is generated from the very beginning, when it is decided to assess one thing rather than another. Whatever is selected is assigned extra value. We must therefore be careful in choosing the objective, but, above all, we have to be especially careful in all ethical aspects surrounding assessment action. Assessment must necessarily lead to the construction of a specific culture: “assessment culture”.

We can seriously damage people and institutions with assessment. We must manage assessment processes within frameworks ensuring absolute respect for personal dignity. People must perceive that the assessment action concerns a whole achievement process and is not a humiliation. Assessment carried out in an unethical way ends up devaluing rather than evaluating, and never incorporates the subjects into their assessment culture. If the ultimate aim is improvement, this will not be achieved without the desire and excitement of people deriving from their feeling immersed in the same cultural magma. 

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