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Question: When Is a comment not worth the paper it's written on? Answer: When It's accompanied by a Level, grade or mark!

Simon Butler
Teaching History
No. 115, ASSESSMENT WITHOUT LEVELS? (June 2004), pp. 37-41
Published by: Historical Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43259106
Page Count: 5
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Abstract

In this article, Simon Butler advances a strong case for 'comments only' marking. Good assessment, he argues, is about encouraging students to reflect on their current performance and take responsibility for their own progress. Assigning Levels to pupils' work is often justified in terms of the generation of targets which help to 'raise standards'. In fact, Butler and others argue that regularly awarding Levels may actually hinder student progress. Butler draws heavily upon advice and ideas in the Key Stage 3 Strategy, especially those that are faithful to the original research inspiring its assessment principles. He suggests that greater sophistication and flexibility in purely qualitative feedback is now the way forwards. This, he argues, will realise the deeper assessment principles at the heart of the Strategy, rather than trying to use Level Descriptions formatively. Here, he shares the findings of a 'comments only' assessment project in local schools and offers a useful strategy that departments can adapt.

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