Relational Evaluation

Practices of educational assessment through standardisation and testing are byproducts of a bygone era. As grades become the very goals of education, learning suffers, along with the well-being of both students and teachers. Proposed here is a relational alternative to the assessment tradition. In this relational vision, schools no longer function as factories, but as sites of collective meaning-making. We highlight that it is within the process of relating that the world comes to be what it is for us. We draw from this process our understandings of the world, of ourselves within it, and of what is meaningful and good. Both learning and well-being are thus the fruits of the relational process, which assessment practices through testing undermine.

A relational orientation to educational evaluation is thus proposed, with two primary features:

  • The first is a focus on valuing and co-inquiring, where all stakeholders in education engage in continuous deliberation on the meaningfulness and values in educative activities and experiences;
  • The second is an emphasis on adding values to education, by fostering learning, enhancing student’s participation in learning, engendering sustained engagement, and enriching the relational process itself.

Such practices can be embedded within the ongoing learning processes, especially through dialogue and collaboration among co-learners. Equally, evaluative reflection must take place at specified intervals, such as once a term. Here students acquire a vocabulary of evaluation and appreciation that can be incorporated into the future learning journeys. Co-inquiry features here as a generative process in which mutual valuing is prominent. Such evaluative reflection should ultimately be extended to the whole school as a learning community and beyond.

Ken and Scherto hosted a dialogue about the importance of relational evaluation in education.
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