Assessments – How Much is too Much?

Grace C (Year 10), Chief Contributor

Assessments (or culminating tasks) aren’t something we, as students, are strangers to. Since the beginning of our Secondary School careers, we’ve gotten used to the way these tasks work. Four tasks per subject, one per term. Easy enough right? But what about now, with Years 7-10 having ‘semester-ised’ subjects?

I went into this year having the expectation that with fewer classes meant a lesser assessment load, but that optimistic expectation was quickly pushed aside, when I found out that the assessment load had increased significantly – ironically, because the assessment process had not changed at all!

In this semester alone, I have had fifteen culminating tasks across my six classes. In one class alone, I had four. It was getting to the point where we would sit the next test before even getting our results for the previous one back. I found that, with all these tasks piling up, it became increasingly difficult to balance my work, social life, and co-curricular activities. I also found that, as a chronic procrastinator, being bombarded with a constant stream of work brings not only my work ethic, but also the quality of my work down, as I have a lot more work to spread my very little attention span across.

Another very real consequence of this workload is burnout. Overworking yourself can lead to not only mental deterioration but also can affect you physically as stress can manifest in many ways. This could be especially detrimental to Year 10 students, who this year are meant to be preparing themselves for their coming senior years at the college, not working themselves into the ground! So, as the new timetable is being worked out, it’s important to think of how these new changes affect the amount of work students have to take on.

This assessment load doesn’t only affect us pupils, but it also affects the teachers. Teachers who would usually have to mark one assessment per class per term now have their marking loads doubled in some cases. While I understand the reasoning behind the process, four units of work equals four assessments, but these units usually take up a whole term, rather than a couple weeks. So, it got me thinking – is there a better way of approaching this? Take for example, maths. We do assessments on multiple units of work in one test, so couldn’t there be a way to implement this into semester-ised classes, like science and history, to take some of the workload off not only the students, but teachers too?

It’s important to get this conversation started now as the new timetable is still in its infancy, so that current and future students at the college don’t start dreading assessment periods (more than we already do!).