Academic scores are not everything, experts say

It’scommon to find learners struggling, and others under pressure to perform well in school, especially by ensuring they score higher marks in certain subjects.

This, education experts say, doesn’t necessarily correlate with students’ success in general, but only works when it comes to academics.


Aminadhad Niyoshuti, an English teacher at Apaper Complex School says basing on scores, means that such students are being tested on how good they are academically, which  means that this alone is not a good yardstick of how good or successful they will be outside the school environment.


He notes that in order for one to be a well rounded student, teachers should focus on other skills, which they observe that students could be having other than just grading them on how they have performed  in subjects.


“The instructor should be in a position to assess their learners especially attainment  of the learning outcomes, this is  what students are expected to know, understand or be able to do in order to be successful not only in a certain subjects but also in their general life,” he says.

He says that assessing students, not only by basing on marks can profoundly shape the educational experiences of students, and that it should focus not only on content knowledge but also on their capabilities in other areas apart from just class work.

On the other hand, Luciana Kamugisha, teacher and music instructor says relying on academic scores and marks to measure the success of a learner is not fair, especially if such students are expected to excel in life after school.

She believes that testing students is the primary measure of their knowledge throughout their academic careers, but it should be in various areas.

However, she says that how these tests are done is vital and should be considered.

Such tests, she says should be meant to challenge students to apply their skills or measure their knowledge. By doing this it gives a teacher a clear picture of how good each learner is in different areas, and not only on what they have scored in academics.

She explains that academic marks (high or low) do not always give a true picture of a student’s knowledge or abilities to do different things.

“Some students who have a good grasp of material have great difficulty demonstrating their knowledge in a testing situation, therefore, looking on what they are good at is vital,” she adds.

What to focus on

Jean Pierre Nsengimana, a tutor in Kigali says students will show greater motivation, are better behaved and are more likely to be independent and strategic thinkers when teachers asses them in different skills.

He says skills such as adaptive thinking, communication skills, problem solving, creativity among others should be considered as well, while evaluating students.

Nsengimana says although this isn’t tested in exams, as teachers they should know how and when to test for this, and give credit where necessary.

Additionally, depending on what a teacher wants to get from their students, they should consider such vital skills so that it becomes easier to know how their students can be helped in certain areas.

Niyoshuti says schools should have and involve extra curriculum activities, and through this it’s easy to pick out what learners are interested in.

He says that for instance there are students who may not be good at academics, but are the best when it comes to music, debating, maintaining discipline, time management, among others.

“One can be able to observe this if they have such clubs or programs at their schools, and also allow each and every student to participate in,” he says.

Alternatively, Kamugisha says teachers should work closely with parents so that they can help discover talents in children at younger age.

She notes that some children can only prosper or do well in what they are passionate about if they get the support needed from parents and teachers.

“By doing this, it’s easier for the children to show their strength especially in areas they feel comfortable in. It also gives a teacher a clue on what they expect from their learners and thus becomes easier to rank them,” she says.

Kamugisha notes that besides allowing students to express themselves and say how they feel or think what should be done in some areas is vital.

She explains that by doing this, a teacher can find out what is missing or what to work on in order to make the learning environment better for all students.


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