A MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL
Feast of Jesus Christ, Universal King (20 November)
This Sunday, the Church celebrates the feast of Jesus Christ, Universal King. The passage describes the way Jesus was mocked during His Passion. It can be interpreted as an example of a serious case of bullying and two dignified responses that undermine the destructive power of the bullies. A message that certainly is important for the girls at Bethany.
Sadly, there have always been those who scoff at others or make fun of them, generally because they themselves feel threatened in some way. Those who suffer such bullying behaviour often feel powerless and demeaned. There may be some comfort for such people in Sunday’s gospel.
The first response is that of Jesus who refuses to retaliate when the soldiers mock him or when another convicted criminal (“one of the criminals hanging there”) derides him. Another dignified response comes from “the other” criminal. This man has the insight to recognise that Jesus is innocent. He also has the courage to challenge the injustice of what is going on around him. Having offered his challenge, he then turns to Jesus and addresses him by name: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” His request reveals his faith in Jesus as the human face of God. It also reveals his knowledge of Jesus’ mission, first announced in Galilee: “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God ….”
Jesus points to God and God’s reign or empire. Jesus’ criminal companion points to the reign or empire of Jesus. The reign of God and the reign of Jesus are one and the same. In turning to Jesus and putting his request, this criminal becomes a disciple and receives the assurance of a share in Jesus’ life with God: “Today you will be with me…” “Jesus, remember me” is a fitting prayer in the face of all life’s struggles. It is a prayer for mercy. Next time we sing these words or pray them in our hearts, we might spare a thought for the one who first uttered them, a convicted Jewish criminal who had the courage to rise above his own suffering and challenge the unjust oppression of an innocent neighbour. Like Jesus, he was and continues to be an instrument of God’s reign. His capacity to challenge the injustice of Jesus’ execution might be a source of inspiration for us as we struggle to find mercy and justice for the Earth as well as for the innocent ones who seek asylum in our midst only to find themselves subjected to the torture of exile and hopelessness.
The title of Sunday’s feast reminds us of the boundless nature of God’s rule or reign: we celebrate Christ Jesus as ruler of the universe, of all that is and of all that will be. As our understanding of the universe expands, we find ourselves caught up in the ever creative and saving presence of a merciful God. This feast might serve as a reminder that every year needs to become a year of mercy and of justice.
Prayer to Christ the King
O Jesus Christ,
I acknowledge Thee as universal King.
All that has been made,
has been created for Thee.
Exercise all Thy rights over me.
I renew my baptismal vows,
renouncing Satan and his works;
and I promise to live as a good Christian.
In particular do I pledge myself to labour,
to the best of my ability,
for the triumph of the rights of God and Thy Church.
Divine Heart of Jesus,
to Thee do I proffer my poor services,
labouring that all hearts may acknowledge Thy Sacred Kingship,
and that thus the reign of Thy peace
be established throughout the whole universe.
2017 Change to College Assessment Practices
For generations, summative assessment (tests, assignments) has dominated most classroom assessment work, especially in secondary schools, where the bulk of teacher time has been taken up with creating tests, marking and grading. There is a strong emphasis on comparing students to national standards, and feedback to learners comes in the form of marks or grades. These kinds of tests provide little direction or advice for improvement. Typically, they don’t give much indication of mastery of particular ideas or concepts because the test content is generally too limited and the scoring is too simplistic to represent the broad range of skills and knowledge that have been covered.
Broadly speaking there are two kinds of assessment used in education – summative and formative. They differ mainly in terms of their purpose, how the evidence gathered will be used and by whom.
Mainly about improvement
- Tends to be forward looking: part of the learning process, ongoing and continuous, used as an aid to future progress.
- Mainly used to diagnose needs, to provide feedback to help learners learn and to help teachers improve teaching.
- Casts teacher in the role of facilitator.
- Favours the use of classroom assessment planned as part of the lesson.
- Tends to take more time, is relative to individual pupils, is less easily generalised and more subjective.
How well are you doing?
What progress has she made?
What does she need to do now?
Mainly about accountability
- Tends to be backward looking: to come at the end of a learning process, often separate from it and indicate present or past achievement.
- Mainly used to provide information to others about how much learners have learned for certification and accountability.
- Casts teacher in the role of judge.
- Favours the use of formal standardised tests, usually devised and sometimes scored by someone other than the teacher.
- These are short, cheap and easy to score, but usually lack validity, especially when used for accountability purposes.
How good are you?
Is she at level E yet?
Can she do her algebra?
The current worldwide interest in assessment for learning is, to a large extent, due to a review of research carried out by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam at Kings College in London and published in 1998. Their publication, ‘Inside the Black Box’, was a review that drew upon 250 research journals and publications between 1988 and 1997.
Black and Wiliam’s research came up with three main findings.
- Where assessment for learning is implemented effectively, it raises standards of achievement across the board, but particularly for low achievers. It reduced the spread of attainment while raising the bar for everyone. Where pupils are given better quality support and feedback, and are encouraged and empowered to take more responsibility, they learn more effectively.
- There are common barriers that inhibit the development of assessment for learning in schools, namely:
- the over-reliance on testing that encourages teachers to promote rote and superficial learning
- the negative impact on pupils when the giving of marks, grades and levels is over-emphasised and where pupils are compared with one another; and
- the focus on the managerial role of assessments at the expense of learning.
- There were many excellent of examples of good practice that schools could use to develop their own assessment procedures.
The research team at King’s College developed a number of key strategies that underpin Assessment for Learning.
- Finding out where pupils are in their learning through discussion and questioning.
- Teachers agreeing clear objectives with pupils and providing feedback that helps them to achieve these goals.
- Sharing criteria for success and expectations with pupils through sharing learning intentions and success criteria with pupils.
- Making peer and self-assessment key components of learning.
- Enabling young people to take greater ownership of their learning.
The implications for learners
‘Assessment by pupils, far from being a luxury, is an essential part of formative assessment.’ Inside the Black Box.
Assessment for learning is not just about helping teachers to teach more effectively but about encouraging and enabling learners to take more responsibility for their own learning.
Teachers can help bring this about by teaching in a more interactive way and modelling ways to question and give and receive feedback. They can also help pupils take more responsibility for their own learning by:
- sharing learning objectives and success criteria more systematically and more effectively with learners; and
- promoting pupil self-assessment and peer assessment.
In 2017, Bethany has embarked on a whole school revision of assessment practices. We will be reducing the number of summative assessment tasks per course per semester and working hard to have pupils taking responsibility for their own learning, our learning principle for SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING.
This will be a real challenge for all of us as we wean students and parents off “marks”. Black and Wiliam believe that when pupils are given a mark, their ego kicks in and they react emotionally to the score and fail to register the comments. A lower than expected mark is internalised as failure, whereas a better than expected grade leads to children feeling elated and keen to find out if they have done better than their friends. Either way, they ignore the teacher’s comments.
Current research advocates reducing the frequency of awarding scores or grades and the importance given to them. They argue that use of comment-only marking leads to improvements in both learning and attainment. In primary and early secondary, sharing marks with children and parents once a year is sufficient, and once a term is enough for pupils preparing for national and state examinations in middle and upper secondary.
We look forward to seeing the stress levels declining amongst our student population with an emphasis on progress and self-improvement. Your marks do not define you if you adopt a growth mindset.
- Congratulations to Stella Dimitrakas (12) whose Visual Art Body of Work has been nominated for consideration for inclusion in ARTEXPRESS 2017.
Our mantra:“Girls can do anything. Bethany girls can do everything!* (*except divide by zero)” Vicki Lavorato Principal