When the students were presenting their projects, I’d give an assessment out of ten in my mind but not tell them. They’d assess their own work out of ten and then the rest of the class would assess it out of ten. Then I’d tell mine and why. The average of those three became the mark.
It worked because children are compliant on the whole and like to be shown things and take them up from there or else discover something and come for advice.
Anyway, as I say, it worked for awhile and I was ready to drop the idea or adjust it at any moment.
One girl and I remember her name – Rebecca Harrison – asked if she could speak to me outside. Now we get to a philosophical question, people. Do you see a child as a work in progress but with a brain and ideas which are valid at any point or as a little tyke who should just shut up and learn? I’m about halfway – there is the one but there is also the other at times. The trick is trying to get that balance and it’s never easy as the child is changing by the day.
Anyway, she [a flaming redhead by the way] took me outside “for a word” and asked why she had to be assessed by her peers. She had no confidence in their ability to judge her work. She didn’t mind my assessment and as I’d seen, hers was pretty much the same, so please could we have less of the peer assessment?
IMHO she was right and the mark became a cross between the child’s and mine but then I built in mark penalties for huge discrepancies. So, if he said 10/10 and I said 5/10, there was a mark penalty. If he said 7/10 and I said 8/10, there was no mark penalty. So they learnt to judge what I’d probably say and why. Not perfect, no, but OK and the main thing is that the little darlings whom I’d got to be very critical, even of me, were also very fair. Any statement needed a reason for it.
Coming back to Rebecca, I believe she was right to say her peers were in no position to judge, except maybe the ones she’d named. You might see her as elitist but essentially, she was the best of the crop. And if you’d been the teacher, would you have taken on board what she’d said or would you have stood on your “I am the teacher and know best” stance? Years after, as a head, I asked staff to always heed a child’s thought out comment [other than an auto “it’s not fair”] if they weren’t already doing so – there was one staff member I had in mind at the time.
Another thing I asked them was that before auto-saying “no”, ask why the “no”? Was there any way a “yes” would not wreck the project? So the staff member, though in practical terms it would not come up, needed in his or her head to ask him or herself why he/she was saying no. And if there was a reason, then fine.