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Assessment practice: introduction - Belgium (French speaking community)

No human activity can continue without at some time or other having assessment practices to show results or procedures to reach it. Until recently the school system only seemed interested in results, the teacher taught, the pupil listened and watched, and afterwards was evaluated on what he/she remembered. The more the pupil could remember the better the results.

This system was compulsory from 1919 till the beginning of the 21st century.

In 1970, Benjamin Bloom strongly believed in the idea of assessment judged by individual abilities. Instead of frontal teaching in which the results are uncertain, Bloom believed that it was necessary to choose an ability to aim for and to give each pupil an individual plan. This plan involved the allocation of time and level of achievement to aim for, enabling pupils to reach a basic level of success. As excellent as this idea was, Bloom met with difficulties as at the time there were many doubts about his theory.

Since 1998, pupils have had to demonstrate their abilities in a chosen number of competences in a certain situation from a list of preferred activities close to social practices. The conception of competences is not always defined in the same way by everybody but we agree that it is a useful aim to encourage progression even if we know that nobody will reach it 100%.

A pupil must show that he/she has achieved a minimal ability of competences by a presentation taken from his/her curriculum of learning. The role of the teacher is to help the pupil to progress towards this ability.

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