“Skill, drill, and kill”
Zimbabwean Teachers’ views on once-off summative assessment
Keywords:summative, experiences, high stakes testing, balanced, holistic assessment
This paper reports on teachers’ summative assessment experiences at grade seven level in selected primary schools in Chegutu District, Mashonaland West Province in Zimbabwe. The study's purpose was to determine the effect and impact the final, standardised, and high-stakes assessment have on teaching and learning at grade seven level in these primary schools. Using a qualitative research design, we generated data from eight teachers who were purposefully selected from four of the different primary schools found in Zimbabwe (rural, farm, urban, and boarding). Semi-structured interviews, documents, and records analysis were employed as data generation to allow for rich and detailed information from all available sources for this research. This paper presents and discusses the data about teachers’ summative evaluation experiences at grade seven in the Zimbabwean education system. The findings reveal a severe effect and impact of end-of-year grade seven examinations on teachers, instructional practices, the curriculum, the learners, and the education system. It also shows that teachers depend excessively on drilling and repetitious revision practices to meet the standards required and expected by stakeholders. The findings further reveal contradicting responses from teachers on enhancing learners’ performance from drilling and coaching. There emerged from the findings a consensus among teachers on merging formative, continuous, and summative assessment forms. This paper suggests a more balanced and holistic assessment structure at grade seven level that caters to learners' diverse populations and environments in Zimbabwe.
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