Exam results – are they an accurate measure of achievement?

The subject of whether or not exam results are an accurate measure of achievement is one that has found itself in the headlines quite frequently over the past couple of years.

There are many voices on either side of the debate – all seemingly promoting logical yet diametrically opposing views. So, do exam results matter and are they an indicator of ability?

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How diet can affect learning and memory

You have more than likely heard that there is a correlation between the diet of a child (and even an adult) and their ability to learn as well as retain information. In fact, it is this very correlation, along with the rise in childhood obesity, that led to many school lunches being completely revamped and made that much healthier for children.

Since then, there have been many positive effects observed – such as better concentration and improved learning abilities. But how can diet affect learning and memory, and which foods are best to eat?

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5 simple ways…to reward students

There has been much research on the topic of just what it is that makes for an effective reward system; despite extensive academic literature on the subject (and debates that rage on between topics such as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation) rewards really needn’t represent a complex, time-consuming system that adds to your everyday pressures as a teacher.

Here are five ideas that work and require minimal effort on your part.

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Celebrating Victories in the Classroom

For any teacher, the balancing act in recognising every student’s achievement is a tough one. After all, schools, teachers and educational professionals have never faced more targets to hit and more metrics to yardstick their students against – whilst students themselves now know all too well of exactly how they’re performing compared to their peers and the wider averages.

For the less able in classes of mixed abilities, this can often result in far less frequent recognition – whilst the more able follow a cycle of achievement, and recognition (which then further bolsters their progression) – ultimately, this is the purest demonstration of a ‘self-fulfilling’ prophecy.

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Raising Aspiration in Younger Students

It has been suggested that a person’s aspirations are shaped by the likelihood of them being achieved. When linked with the concept that a child’s belief in their ability to achieve something is in part based on whether they see those they consider to be peers achieving in a similar way, then it is no wonder that the biggest challenge to raising aspiration in schools is socio-economic status.

The longer the negative messages received by a child go unchallenged the harder they are to overcome, which is why raising aspiration in younger children is increasingly an issue being raised by school leaders.

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Ipsative Feedback and Assessment

There is such controversy surrounding assessment in the current educational climate that it is hard to see the wood for the trees. Inspectors will expect each student to know their own targets and current levels of progress but many teachers find that this can demotivate those whose progress is perhaps at a lower level than that of their classmates.

Competition within a class can be motivational for those at the top but for those at the bottom it has the opposite effect. One method that can help to combat this issue is using an ipsative form of assessment and feedback.

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Raising Aspiration with Parental Engagement

When schools are looking to raise aspiration, parental power is an invaluable and powerful way to enhance and introduce enthusiasm and motivation.

Success is seen at its highest when schools and parents work together as a partnership, but whilst almost all schools involve parents in activities at the school itself, this is parental involvement rather than engagement and does not directly affect achievement as opposed to direct parental engagement which increases aspiration for all the family.

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Improving attainment for C/D border students

Improving attainment for C/D border students can mean a huge difference to their lives. It can be the difference between being offered a place at their FE college – or not, or it can mean starting an Apprenticeship – or not.

The reasons pupils fall into the C/D sector of a year are varied, but the solution is intervention to look to resolve the issues in the run up to exams as much as possible.

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Effective Summative Feedback

Whilst formative feedback is used as a tool for regular evaluation of achievement or to look at and set up methods to stem the areas where students need to make improvement, summative feedback is just as crucial and should be used in conjunction with formative assessment to give a rounded picture of learning rather than purely on its own.

Summative feedback can be used just as effectively as formative feedback as there are a number of tools and processes for obtaining the data and information regarding the learning which has taken place.

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