Ballots: is it evaluated with the mathematical average of the grades or based on the progress achieved at the “end” of the learning path?

A teacher asks us whether it is more correct in the final process of evaluation and annexed attribution of the mark, to consider all the verifications, questions therefore also the insufficient ones or if it is possible in some specific cases to remove the negative mark from the average. A question with a simple answer may appear; in reality there is a considerable quantity of elements to analyse: from the freedom of teaching of the individual teacher to the resolutions of the collegial bodies; from the concept of summative assessment to that of formative assessment; from the learning pace of the individual student to his starting condition.

More concretely: if a student in a first test has had a negative mark and then at a later time has carried out a second test with a positive mark, how do we behave? Given that it is not possible to delete evaluations from the electronic register, must the mathematical average necessarily be considered or should the first vote be excluded completely and the average must be done manually?

Evaluation – Definition

Evaluation is a fundamental pedagogical element of educational programming, without which the pupil’s processes could not be followed with respect to the objectives and goals to be achieved during his/her stay at school. Between these:

  • acquisition and transmission of disciplinary contents – know
  • ability to transform acquired content into action – know-how
  • ability to interact and translate knowledge and skills into behaviors to be adopted in everyday life – know how to be

“The evaluation has as its object the training process and the learning outcomes of the pupils and students of the school institutions of the national education and training system, has training and educational purposes and contributes to the improvement of learning and training success of the same, documents the development of personal identity and promotes the self-assessment of each in relation to the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences.”. [Art. 1 del D.Lgs n. 62/2017]

Evaluation phases

For the evaluation, three fundamental phases are distinguished, which underlie three different functions:

  • the initial evaluation or diagnosticinterested in getting to know the pupil in order to individualize the learning path with reference to the personal characteristics observed (personality characteristics, attitude towards school, learning rhythms and styles, motivation, participation, autonomy, input knowledge and skills…);
  • the intermediate or formative evaluation*aimed at ascertaining the dynamics of learning with respect to the programmed objectives, to adjust the programming, to promote any remedial actions, to modify, if necessary, times and methods, to promptly inform the student about his progress, directing his commitments;
  • the final or summative evaluation*intended to detect the educational impact of scholastic learning for the personal and social development of the pupil, summarized in the infra-quarterly, quarterly and annual evaluation documents.

*We have described the types of summative and formative assessment based on the chronological order within a learning path of the standard duration of a school year. But these meanings sometimes go beyond these time intervals and have a meaning more linked to the strategic concept of Evaluating as we will see below.

Formative and summative assessment

Formative assessment aims to define what has been learned, what the student “has” and how to improve. In this process, the pupil is considered an active protagonist as he clearly identifies and recognizes what he is acquiring, the progress made, how to apply his knowledge and how to improve.

The summative assessment has the function of verifying the different levels of skills, knowledge and competences achieved; allows, with a final grade or judgement, to analyze the outcomes of the training course and to make an overall assessment of the knowledge and skills acquired at the end of a training process. In other words, summative assessment is the synthesis of many ongoing formative assessments.

Evaluation criteria established by the teaching staff

Evaluation within the single educational institution must be consistent:

  • with the three-year plan of the training offer;
  • with the personalization of learning paths based on the students’ comprehension times;
  • with the National Indications for the curriculum and the Guidelines referred to in the decrees of the President of the Republic 15 March 2010, n. 87, no. 88 and no. 89.

The number, types of checks and evaluation methods to be submitted to students fall within the scope of the “Evaluation Criteria” set by the educational institutions, specifically by the Academic Board. Articulations of the latter are the disciplinary and interdisciplinary Departments which establish, for each discipline, the aforementioned criteria – and annexed evaluation grids -, agreed between the various component teachers. It is up to the class councils and the teachers, in the exercise of their professional autonomy, to periodically and finally assess the students in accordance with the criteria and methods defined by the teaching staff.

Conclusions – Is it more correct to average grades or evaluate based on the progress achieved at the end of the learning path?

In our opinion, both types of assessment are correct and should be applied in a synergistic way. Based on part of the above, simplifying drastically, making the average of the marks corresponds to an evaluation of nature summative while evaluating on the basis of the progress achieved, commitment, constancy, participation, falls within the sphere formative. In the evaluation criteria defined at the level of the individual educational institution we often find the following:

In the final evaluation phase, the simple mathematical average of the assigned results will not be carried out, but the training carried out by each pupil, the commitment, participation, the improvements shown, even if slight, compared to the starting levels. Particular attention will be paid to self-evaluation activities.”

On the basis of the acquisitions of docimological research, evaluation is attributed, alongside the summative (or conclusive) function, also and above all an educational function: the latter takes on particular importance, as it follows, orients and promotes educational processes along the way, adapting the educational paths from time to time to the cognitive and socio-emotional needs of the students.”

The teacher who, in the exercise of his professional autonomy within the broader concept of freedom of teaching, does not want to calculate the mathematical average of the grades but assign a more formative evaluation based on the progress obtained by the student, can legitimately do so. The important thing is that the teacher acts in accordance with the criteria and methods defined by the teaching staff and included in the three-year plan of the training offer [DLgs 62/2017, art 1 comma 2].

Furthermore, it is the law that allows him to do so: “Evaluation has as its object the training process and the learning outcomes of pupils” [[Art. 1 del D.Lgs n. 62/2017]. Not only and exclusively the learning outcomes should be evaluated but also the training process and path.

Of course, it is also necessary to evaluate i pace of learning and the starting condition of the student. If, for example, a student who is very gifted from a cognitive point of view and without any relational or social problems decides to commit himself only in the last few weeks close to the exams, it would not be appropriate to use the formative evaluation criterion; if, on the other hand, we are in the presence of a student with poor learning levels due to aptitude, social or family difficulties, it is clear that his possible educational progress acquires an important value and that consequently the formative evaluation criterion, by the ‘teacher, would be the most suitable one.

In any case, we remind you that during the intermediate or final scrutiny [non stiamo parlando di esami di Stato, dove la media matematica dei voti delle prove è obbligatoria], the overall grade is proposed by the teacher concerned and then approved by the class council. Generally the latter does not oppose what is proposed by the teacher of the discipline; even more so in the event that a teacher wishes to apply the criterion of formative evaluation rather than the summative one. But if it should happen that the Class Council proposes a different vote, the teacher of the discipline can refer to the aforementioned evaluation criteria established by the Academic Board which, on the basis of what is expressly reported, can lead in both directions: teacher’s vote confirmed or modified .

Teachers who schedule only written tests and never question: legitimate? – Horizon School News

Number of checks per quarter, written tests per discipline “only” oral, single mark. Towards the mid-year scholastic ballots – Horizon School News

Formative and summative evaluation between differences and similarities: an observation and evaluation grid for the upper secondary school is attached – Orizzonte Scuola Notizie

Ballots: is it evaluated with the mathematical average of the grades or based on the progress achieved at the “end” of the learning path? – Horizon School News