Main menu

Assessment practice: introduction - Cyprus

Educational Reform

The educational system in Cyprus is currently undergoing reform as a result of dialogue and consensus between stakeholders based upon the proposals made by a Committee of Experts appointed by the Council of Ministers in 2003. Among other issues, the Report of the Committee of Experts (2004)  examines the issue of assessment and evaluation. It takes a critical stance on the concept of National Standards which, in the opinion of the Committee, is tied to a consumerist view of education: goals are analyzed into objectives which are measurable and may thus be hierarchically ordered into levels by age and grade. In this way, the degree of attainment or success, not only of pupils but also of teachers and of whole school units may be externally evaluated and ranked by results, albeit with negative consequences for the pupils, the teachers and the school units ( p.p. 278-280 and 283).

Among other negative consequences the Committee believes that an approach based on the idea of National Standards “takes for granted that everyone has the same ability for learning, without taking into consideration special- ness or particularity, something that favours social discrimination and the existing social culture” (p.283).  The Committee rejects the attempt, begun in Cyprus in 2001, to introduce National Standards into the educational system of Cyprus and proposes instead a review of the Curriculum to include in greater analysis and details not only the knowledge, but also the abilities, skills and attitudes expected to be attained by pupils, taking into account, the reflection and promotion of the multi-cultural and inclusive dimension of educational policy in Cyprus. 

The review of the Curriculum would be part of the introduction of a wider system of ongoing, qualitative evaluation of the educational process that would override an exclusive reliance on quantitative assessment and evaluation of outcomes.  Rather, a carefully designed system of periodic evaluation of educational outcomes in all basic subjects at nodal points in the educational system  (e.g. 7, 11,14 and 16 years of age), would provide feedback for the improvement of the system and for monitoring the introduction of innovations.

The Committee proposes the development of a system of internal evaluation of the performance of each school unit on the basis of quality indicators that would be arrived at consensually by the various stakeholders.  With regard to pupils´ learning, such indicators may be adopted as attainment of learning objectives for each lesson, within-pupil comparison of performance at different times during the school year and, more pertinently, within-group comparisons of the progress and performance of pupils with special needs to that of more able pupils in the class.

Such a system would require a shift from more centralized to more localized methods of administration, from more hierarchical-authoritative methods of control to more participative and consensual methods of decision-making and responsibility; and from more teacher-centred to more learner-centred methods of instruction.   This would imply that any shift in the role and relationship of each teacher vis-à-vis each individual pupil in his/her class and, more generally, any shift as to “what teachers and pupils do in classrooms” (Black and William, 1998)  would be a reflection of the changing role and relationship of teachers vis-à-vis other teachers, school administrators, parents and the school community in general.

On a more practical level, changes proposed (many of which have already been implemented and others are underway) include:

  • Extension of the school day until the afternoon with a full timetable of activities.
  • Increasing effective instruction/learning time. 
  • Review and development of the Curriculum to reflect the needs of a democratic, participative, multi-cultural and inclusive society.
  • Adoption of teaching methods which promote active learning, critical thinking, creativity and the development of skills for lifelong learning.
  • Creation of a central agency to oversee and co-ordinate assessment and evaluation of educational outcomes with the purpose of generating objective, valid, and reliable information to be fed back into the educational system; development of a system of internal evaluation of the performance of each school unit.   
  • Continuous education and training of teachers to prepare them for implementing goals successfully and policies e.g. inclusive education.
  • Administrative decentralization of school units
  • Lowering teacher / pupil ratio

 

Sources:

  • Black, P., and William, D. (1998b). “Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment”. Phi Delta Kappan, 80 (2): 139-148.
  • LinkedIn
  • Google +