This journal is about the school based assessment among ESL teachers in Malaysian secondary schools. The journal was been written by Chan Yuen Fook and Gurnam Kaur Sidhu from Faculty of Education, UiTM Shah Alam. School based assessment is one of the processes of monitoring, evaluating and implementing plans to address the weaknesses and strengths that will observe in school. Actually, without we conscious, the school based assessment already implemented in our classroom since the late 1990s and the beginning of year 2000. Unfortunately, there are only a few research to investigate either the school based assessment could give a big hit in student's achievement or not. Therefore, this research was conducted to investigate the knowledge and the best practices of Malaysian ESL teachers in conducting the school based assessment (SBA) in their classroom. School based assessment is seen as an alternative ways to help the teachers to find out the progress and also the understanding of their students in their learning. According to our former Malaysian Minister of Education, Tan Sri Musa Mohamed on May 7, 2003, he said that the objective of implementing the school based assessment is to make our educational system less exam-oriented. Thus, by implementing SBA in our classrooms, it would be a better option in assess the students' abilities.
Furthermore, with greater reliance on SBA, such policy will help the teachers to identify their student's strengths and limitation in learning. But, this kind of concept of assessment will require the assessors especially the teachers to be well-versed in the knowledge of other form of alternatives assessments such as in term of observations, portfolios, peer and self-evaluation and also the projects. In facts, if the teachers possess a low level of knowledge in conducting the assessment, they may not able to help improve the students learning. Thus, according to Rohizani Yaakub & Norlida Ahmad (2003), they have said that, improving best practices of teachers in testing and assessment should be an important objective in order to improve the level of teachers' knowledge in SBA. The teachers should have the clear concept about the school based assessment because they will be a person to be the implementers this concept of assessment.
Based on the finding from this research journal, the teachers in this study were aware of the advantages and disadvantages of school based assessment (SBA). They know the benefits of SBA that is can help them in providing the information and insight needed in order to improve the effectiveness and the learning quality. Besides that, the teachers in this study also conscious about the importance of SBA in encouraging classroom assessment to be on-going process. By applying this concept of assessment, the teachers feel that the learning become more meaningful to the students because the students can get the feedback immediately either their performance is excellent or not. Compared to what we practice nowadays, the students can get the feedback after the teachers conducted the test or examination. Besides that, according to the data that was analyzed by the researchers, they also indicated that, majority the ESL teachers possess the limited knowledge in some of aspects such as in term of interpreting test scores, conducting item analysis and forming the test bank. Most of them admitted that, even though they familiar with the calculating the mean, standard deviation, z-score and t-score but they only had heard of these terms during the training days and now they already forgotten how to use it, their meaning and also their own functions. Thus, this kind of knowledge is important to the teachers if the school based assessment would be implemented in our classroom.
As we know, such method of assessment already became current practices in other countries such as United State, Britain, Germany, Japan, Finland and New Zealand. Thus, the issues and the situation of lack training and lack of positive responses for training in our country is quite similar with what is experienced in other advanced country that practice this kind of assessment like in United States. Many parties need to play their own role in order to get a successful result when this concept of assessment is implementing in our school. Such parties like the national organization, the research community and state and as well as the local education agencies are require in providing the guideline and the guidance to schools especially to the teachers regarding the use of students' assessment. Schools are utilizing this kind of support in order to apply the school based assessment in their own classroom. Schools must implement assessment system that is not only integrated with the educational curriculum, but it also would be contributed to the goal in increasing the students achievement based on the several of content standard.
In school based assessment, the teachers need to manage, synthesizing, interpreting and using student's assessment data that need to obtain from a multifaceted assessment system, thus this complex duties can be a stressful task for the educator if the assessment systems is lack coherence, school staff do not experience in student assessment, and the time, attention and energies of teachers and administrators are need to stretch to personal limits. Furthermore, in discussing the issues and the challenges facing by ESL teachers in school based assessment, majority of them felt that the implementation of SBA is left much to be desired. Even though teachers in our country aware about the importance of school based assessment, but they emphasized about the time constraints and a heavy teaching load that they need to carry when this concept of assessment is implemented in classroom as a culprits in its effectiveness implementation. Besides the issues of time constraint and heavy teaching load, they also raise the issues of reliability and validity of school based test. Hence, it is important for a school system to constantly assess the quality of instruction, learning and assessment provided in its schools.
As we know, our Malaysian government has proposed to implement school based assessment (SBA) in public schools in the attempt to replace the current public examinations that we practice today. Thus, for my own opinion, the implementation the school based assessment in our educational system could give the pros and cons toward many parties especially to students, teachers and schools. Because of our educational system is too reliance with the examination in order to assess the student's performance and abilities or too exam-oriented, our teacher and also the students just come to school in a mission to attend the examination. Thus, they learn to memorize and recite the topic without have knowing the meaning of the topic. Hence, their ability is just in memorizing the facts and not has abilities to understand and relate the topic with the real world. Thus, when the school based assessment is implemented in schools, the students cannot just reliance and depend with the examination in order to assess their abilities and performance, but they also need to excel in other assessment like portfolios, projects, peer and self assessment. Hence, I believe that, by applying the SBA as an on-going assessment, it would enhance the students' abilities and performance as well as could enhance the innovation of students.
Besides that, school based assessment also could give a lot of benefits toward teachers. From my reading, teachers easily can assess their student's abilities and teachers also will be given empowerment in assessing their students. Thus, the role of teachers in this new assessment is vital. Even though the teachers have vital role in assessing students, I believe that the reliability and validity in assessing student's performance cannot be constant. Different teacher and schools have their own preference in assessing the students even though the guideline already been given for them. As we know, SBA slowly made its way into Malaysian classroom since the late 1990s, thus from my experience when my teacher give a projects to finish like in additional mathematics' project, my teachers already give a hint or answer to us before we start our projects, thus from this situation the students did not enhance their critical thinking but they just use and apply what their teachers told them even though it is illegal for the teachers to do such things. Thus, the grade that the students got is not valid with their abilities. Hence, I believe that, such problem would happen in future even though the guideline is given to our teachers. The teachers should have a skill in assessing the student so that the reliability and validity of teachers in assessing students did not rise in future.
In my humble opinion, even though I like the plans in implementing school based assessment in our school, but I could feel the burden that the teacher need to carry especially in creating the assessment strategies. As what we already know, this concept of assessment requires a lot of creativity on the side of the teachers. Thus, the changes in the roles of teachers and learner lie with the teachers as a facilitator of learning. The teachers need to be a creative thinker in order to assess their student's abilities. As a future teacher, the thing that I could worry when this SBA implemented in school is the collaboration between the teachers with their students or colleagues. This area is need of attention because for me, the teachers need cooperation their students in assessing the student's performance. The teachers need to understand their student's role in school based assessment. Thus, for me the training should be conducted and it could be helpful for the teacher to integrate the SBA in their classrooms.
School based assessment could give a lot of benefits to the parties that involved with it but there are a number of existing problems in school based assessment that have need to address as soon as possible. If these problems could be reduced, then the implementation of school based assessment could give a big hit to educational field. Thus, given below are some of recommendations that I feel it will bring more effective implementation of the school based assessment.
First recommendation is the form of training in SBA. Majority of teachers felt that they have lacked in knowledge and exposure of the SBA. Sometimes, the teacher did not know how to play their role in school based assessment and how to be fair during assessing student's abilities and performance. Thus, the teachers required the effective training in the form of briefings about the SBA, courses and also the workshops. Besides that, even though the teacher already went to training, but they might felt that, the exposure that offered by the training center was insufficient and did not cover all the matters that they need when they teach in the classroom. Even though the Ministry of Education providing them with the booklet about teaching strategies and objectives, but sometimes it is not come out with the good idea like what was expected. Hence, the intensive training should be carried out to help the teacher getting the exposure about the SBA.
Second recommendation is give an effective monitoring and feedback toward the teachers. Many of the teachers that have lacked in the knowledge of SBA required the effective feedback and monitoring from the Head of Department. This feedback and monitoring could provide them help in improving their teaching as well as in integrating with the SBA. Hence, the step needs to be taken by the school to train their principal or Head of Department in monitoring their teachers with regard to school based assessment. The effectiveness monitoring that was provided by the school could help the teacher to teach and assess their student in track and not beyond their mind.
The third recommendation is reduce the teacher workload and the number of students in a class. Many of teachers complained about the time constraint and also the workload. If the number of students huge in a class, the teacher required a lot of time to work with the projects, cards and report book in assessing the student's performance and abilities. The reduction in teacher workload and the number of student's enrolment can be an effective step to ensure that the implementation of SBA could bring success.
Implementation of SBA could bring a big hit to many parties that involved with it as long as such problem could be reduced. Perhaps what is needed is a concerted effort and cooperation from all parties concerned.
BACHELOR DEGREE OF EDUCATION OF MATHEMATICS PROGRAM (ED229)
FACULTY OF EDUCATION,
UiTM SECTION 17, SHAH ALAM.
PROBLEM SOLVING IN SCIENCE (SCE 554)
Siti Norashidah binti AB Rahaman