POST TIME: 27 October, 2020 06:03:30 PM
An alternative assessment for learning outcomes amid Covid-19
Almost 40 million students in the country are facing academic recession despite the ongoing online and prerecorded classes to avert the great blow already upon them
Alaul Alam

An alternative assessment for learning outcomes amid Covid-19

The unprecedented coronavirus is still wrecking the globe causing enormous loss of lives with a heavy toll on world economy. Though the countries of the world have started enduring dire catastrophe of Covid-19 as soon as they reopen their economy amid huge difficulties, the loss in education sector has been much more what was really perceived at the onset of pandemic as the reopening of educational institutions is still uncertain.

Also in Bangladesh the education goes online as soon as the country hit hard by Covid-19. Though online education has created a new normal in the education sector, it has failed to offer inclusive education as almost half of the students are left behind this trend due to many unavoidable circumstances.

According to a recent survey, almost 40 million students in the country are facing academic recession despite the ongoing online and prerecorded classes to avert the great blow already upon them.

Though initially the government adopted some strategies to run high-stake exams at the institutions, recently it has announced that HSC exam will not be taken this year due to the lingering of coronavirus crisis and students will be provided grades following their previous achievements in JSC and SSC exams.

Probably, it is the first time when students are going to be assessed alternatively without appearing examinations. So the question may be pertinent to raise regarding the overall assessment and in some cases it increases worries of students and parents.

This circumstance prevails not only in Bangladesh but also in most of the countries in the world as they find no alternatives to halting high stake exams thus assessing students in different ways.

Similarly, students of primary and secondary levels have been declared to be promoted to next classes this year without any annual examinations with no results and no grading.

Assignment would be given to the pupils of class 6 to 9 to identify their learning shortcomings but this will not have any impact on their promotion to next classes. Through assignment the concerned want to assess students how everything goes.

But here the question is: do school students have prior experience on assignment writing? Are the teachers well aware of their responsibilities to implement the process in a bid to assess students’ weakness?

It is observed that 90% of school teachers in these unprecedented days are hardly doing any work. So how will they be able to assess their students following the new guideline? Without proper knowledge they will find nothing but beating about the bush that may worsen the situation.

On top of that, there is the risk of sanctity as in the age of internet students may plunge into cut, copy and paste method that will destroy their creativity and it will be difficult for teachers to pinpoint their weakness.

Writing assignment and submitting to the respective course teachers are a very common tradition at tertiary education but it is regretting that the majority of students hardly have any clear concept regarding a systematic academic writing as in many cases teachers are found busy to collect assignment than to teach them what the proper way of developing an assignment is.

In these days public universities are undergoing a tough time as outcome-based assessment is a far cry with majority of students still out of the frame. However, private universities are not refraining themselves to assess students online.

A number of causes are apparent here. For example, finishing the ongoing semester and opening new semester is a case of concern and also a source of tuition fees collected from the students to pay the teachers.

Education experts have stated the concerns regarding assessing through online examinations as expressing the question of sanctity in regard to the whole procedure that may jeopardize and distract us from the quality education. 

However, assignment writing, report writing, case studies and research paper development, etc. are being considered for summative assessment while the quizzes like calculated questions, matching questions, close test, multiple choice, short answer, numerical function and true false, etc. for formative approach in assessing students.

But how far this assessment goes beyond question? Actually short-term assessment cannot help teachers contribute to assessing students until long- term assessment is done.

Anyhow, to address the existing unprecedented crisis in the education sector, it is time to identify the shortcomings of students and back them up with appropriate resources and in this regard teachers have ample responsibilities. The whole procedure should be student-centric. Teachers should develop a clear concept about how students will be assessed. Before assessing students it will be the responsibility of teachers to give them a proper explanation.

The writer teaches at Prime University. Email:[email protected]