There is a need to move away from the present day conflicts and tensions that surround formative and summative assessments. Much assessment is happening in the primary mathematics classrooms which is informal, spontaneous and is often undertaken as the normal process of teaching rather than under the overemphasized aegis of formative or summative assessments. The type of professional judgements made instantly by the teacher when she seizes a ‘teachable moment’ on the run in a busy classroom by assessing the situation the child is in and giving immediate feedback, during the normal course of teaching, often go unnoticed. It is this quality of the teaching practice which makes the teacher help the child to take small steps to go to the next higher level of understanding, and is the need of the hour and not assessments in their formative or summative disguise. Based on research from India and overseas, some causes of the perceived tensions between the formative and summative functions of the assessments are explored and aspects of quality assessment practice in primary mathematics are looked at in this paper.
Mithu Pal, Institute of Advanced Studies, India
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