'Teachers best placed to assess own pupils'
Teachers in Ireland should be proud to take responsibility for assessing their own students, according to an international education expert.
As the row over the roll-out of junior cycle changes to all 730 second-level schools rumbles on, a conference this week will hear of the benefits for teachers and students of embracing the reforms.
Students who have just finished second year are the first to experience junior cycle changes, involving classroom-based assessments alongside traditional exams.
Opposition from the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) - much of it around teachers assessing their own pupils - has disrupted the introduction of the reforms, and the union is threatening to continue the row into next year.
The Australian state of Queensland has had teacher assessment for about 40 years, and Professor Val Klenowski from Queensland University of Technology insists that it is better that students are assessed by their own teachers than by external examiners.
Prof Klenowski is one of the speakers at the annual Maynooth University Education Forum on Friday, which is exploring the issue of assessment.
A leading specialist in the field, she says that, by using their professional judgement, teachers can better support a student's future learning through direct involvement in the assessment process.
Prof Klenowski says it does require professional development of teachers and a system of moderation to ensure quality assurance, but students need that interaction with teachers if they are to learn from the assessment process.
She says in Australia teachers see it as "very much part of their responsibility to be able to assess their own students and to devise assessment tasks and to come together with other teachers to talk about what really matters, student learning".
While the ASTI remains opposed to junior cycle changes, the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) is co-operating and students in more than one third of schools had their first classroom-based assessments in English last month.
The reforms are being phased and from September there will be a new curriculum for both science and business studies, with classroom assessments for students from spring 2018.