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Assessment practice: introduction - Lithuania

The Lithuanian school curriculum has been revised in recent years to provide for the acquisition of a wider range of skills, but classroom practice has not yet changed. The intention is that the role of the teacher should move in the direction of becoming a facilitator rather than an instructor, but that requires assessment skills that have not yet been developed by teachers generally. They need to understand the concepts of assessment and develop the skills to implement them. There is a real desire among many elements in the education service to effect quality improvements in the educational process, but there is a strongly felt need for clarity on what the changes are, what they imply and how they can be affected.
At the primary stages, there has already been a move towards less formal assessment, made on the basis of a variety of learning experiences and methodologies, and resulting in a more descriptive form of reporting achievements, but many teachers, pupils and parents are still bound to marks and formal assessment.
Despite a lot of effort implementing assessment for learning ideas, teachers still have been working using old-fashioned methods, they need support, knowledge and skills, good practice. Contradiction is seen between the principles of the assessment throughout the education process and Matura exams. Pre-service teacher training changes very slowly, it is still based on teaching by academic areas.
Next steps need some clarification and development:

  • The implementation of ideas of the New Assessment Concept
  • It is necessary to solve the contradiction between the implementation of the assessment for learning ideas and various standardised tests or exams which are centralised.
  • A manual to help teachers to develop the practice of continuous assessment
  • The aim would be to provide a document that will be easy for the teachers to use. It may set out clearly the main types of assessment, with explanations of the purposes, value, limitations and implications of each. There should be illustrations to move the abstract statements into a concrete reality that average or below average teachers can relate to. There might be explanations of the place of assessment in planning; teaching; recording; reporting; and evaluating. Also there might be information on assessment in the various main subject domains, with a number of suggestions on practical approaches to assessment at different stages of schooling in each subject area, illustrated if possible by examples; and on assessment approaches at different stages (G1-G4; G5-G8; G9-G10; G11-12).
  • Training of trainers to help teachers to understand why and how

There is yet not much clarity about the intended role of the trainers: How much time that will be made available for them to do their work in; what financial provision will be made (fees; travelling and subsistence); whether they will be generic trainers in assessment or have a subject-related role; whether their efforts in the first instance are to be focused on the volunteer schools; what geographical range there will be in their work.
Training of school principals and/or deputy principals, at least at the level of awareness and support, seems to be needed.
Nowadays the most important issue is the implementation of new assessment ideas into the practice and the assessment of integrated pupils with SEN. Firstly it is necessary to train teachers, co-ordinate different education documents in accordance with the principles of the new assessment concept, to solve financial problems. Another important task is to change the public attitude to persons with SEN and the new assessment goals, devices and methods which are not clear for some parents, teachers and the conservative society. The main conclusion is that it is necessary to find possible ways in order to co-ordinate and implement innovative education and assessment ideas into education practice.

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