GREYTON HOUSE NEWSLETTER - Greyton House Village School
T.028 254 9260 [email protected] www.greytonhouse.co.za
Friday 20th March, 2015
Dear Parents and Friends of Greyton House School
Assessment and Reporting:
As a professional educator, I keep a very close eye on developing trends in education internationally. I
believe in watching for positive, innovative and interesting trends in education around the world and, if
possible, mirroring them here at Greyton House.
A contentious issue around the world in education at the moment is the role of mark-based, written
assessment in schools, and the way in which reports are constructed and delivered. There is a general
trend developing in countries that offer the best education systems such as Finland, Australia, Singapore
and South Korea, in moving away from formal written assessment, and treating it as a form of
assessment rather than the form of assessment. The reports at top schools around the world are
beginning to reflect the development of the child’s personality with in-depth comments from teachers
rather than simply a mark and a general comment. The pit-falls to education systems that concentrate too
heavily on formal written assessment are as follows according to Dr Jasmine Evans:
1. The stakes are too high – many children who have a good grasp of the subject matter being
tested struggle to cope in a pressured test environment. The pressure on children to succeed in
these kinds of tests are massive, especially if these tests are the only measurable that determine
a child’s pathway in their educational career and, by extension, their lives. As a result, many
children cannot cope with this pressure and are labelled as “not academically strong” because
they cannot complete a written test. Meanwhile, alternative forms of testing such as verbal
questioning and group or individual practical projects may show the opposite.
2. Teachers are “teaching to the test” - A study by the National Centre for Research on Evaluation,
Standards, and Student Testing in the USA found that teachers have started planning their
curricula around state tests. This phenomenon is called “teaching to the test,” which can entail
teaching only material that will be seen on tests or simply teaching test-taking skills. Opponents
of high-stakes testing claim that with tests at the centre of a year's curriculum, teachers lose
some of the dynamism and creativity that makes school effective and enjoyable—that there is no
value placed on concepts and hands-on projects that require a greater challenge than what can
be tested in a multiple-choice format.
3. Standardized testing eats up instruction time – On average, high schools in South Africa spend
between 4 to 6 weeks of teaching time on standardized written assessment. These numbers
don’t include the weeks and months spent on test preparation classes and benchmark practice
exams. Schools are forced to make tough choices about course offerings to accommodate time
spent preparing for standardized tests. Subjects such as art, music, and certain physical
sciences aren’t tested, and therefore administrators often eliminate them from their schools.
4. High stakes have led to cheating and mark manipulation - Critics of standardized tests say that in
addition to being tempted to cheat, school administrators may also be tempted to push lowperforming students into special education, so their performance won't impact schools’ and
districts’ cumulative scores. Fair Test found that high-stakes testing may push administrators to
arrange for low-scoring students to be absent on test day or leave the school completely.
Dr Evans has written more on the subject, but these are the most salient points.
At Greyton House we have come to a decision to treat standardized written assessment as not the be-all
and end-all of assessment, and to move a little away from mark-based reporting. Only the Grade 6 and 7
class will write formal exams mid-year and at the end of the year. However, we are also aware that most
high schools in South Africa still require a mark as a base-line for accepting or not accepting children into
their ranks. For this purpose our reporting system for Grades 4 to 6 will be as follows:
Term 1 and 3 – You will receive a “Progress Report” looking more at your child’s personal development.
There will not be a mark on this report, but rather detailed comments on your child and their development
and behaviour in the class in that subject. Even though a mark won’t be reflected, the teachers will still
have marks on hand through their various assessments they have performed during the term. You can
request to see these marks when you meet with the teacher, should you wish.
Term 2 and 4 – a more “traditional” report will go out with a mark for each subject and a general comment
from the class teacher.
Due to high school applications, the Grade 7s will receive a mark for all subjects for each term. There will
be a parent/teacher conference evening early next term that will give you the opportunity to discuss your
child’s report with the relevant teacher.
This pertains mainly to the Grade 6 and 7 students entering that wonderful stage of life known as puberty
– good luck mom and dad! If you are noticing that your little angel is starting smell a bit like a little devil,
please can you introduce them to a wonderful invention known as deodorant? Some of the teachers find
that their eyes are watering by the end of the day!
Positive Parenting Tips: By Claire Marketos - www.inspiredparenting.co.za The author gives us 10
parenting options which we will send out to you per week. Here are the first two tips for your
Choosing positive parenting, giving a child what he needs to be happy and successful from the day he is
born, raises children that are kind and co-operative, making smacking and the "d"(discipline)
1.Children need positive attention. As parents we are quick to point out any undesirable behaviour. We
criticise their actions, dress, words, and friends. Let's rather be quick to acknowledge, support and
collaborate with our precious children keeping negative comments to ourselves.
2.Children need to feel loved. Sit and hold each of your children for 10 minutes each day, and tell them
how dear they are to you; how proud you are of them, and how much you love them. Even if you have
four children, it will take you less than an hour to spend quality time with each child. You will see them
swell with self-esteem and confidence.
Grandparents Visit to Grade R and Grade One: What a lovely visit we had from the grandparents of
the children in Grade R and Grade One last Friday. The main reason for the visit was because the class
was learning “g” for grandparents (among other “g” words)! Children were allowed to show granny and
grandpa anything they liked and each grandparent was shown exactly what was what in the class; it was
a lovely lesson in communication skills.
World Water Day – 20.3.15: The programme for Friday has already been distributed to parents. The
children are all ready to sing their hearts out at the Retirement Village starting at 09h30.
Cake Raffle/Tuck Shop: Thank you to Wendy Dry for a lovely chocolate cake last Friday which was won
by Liam de Villiers
World Water Day Human Rights
End of 1st Term
Our Governing Body:
Tim Quinlan (Chairperson), Peter Duncan (Vice Chair), Jenny Duncan, Gemma Downing, Jeremy Sabine.