|Ghana: A Baseline Study of the Teacher Education System (CIE, 2000, 67 p.)|
|Chapter 2: Teacher Education in Ghana|
The Institute of Education at the University of Cape Coast has sole responsibility for conducting examinations and certifying post-secondary teacher trainees. The Institute engages examiners to set questions and moderators to check them, and administers the examinations. Selected tutors from the training colleges mark the examination scripts at a central residential marking centre. An Award Committee of the Institute of Education, comprising chief examiners, representatives of college principals, the Director of Teacher Education, and Ghanaian National Association of Teachers (GNAT) officials reviews the results and makes recommendations to the Professional Board of the Institute of Education for approval. The examination constitutes 70 per cent of the overall marks awarded to teacher trainees, with the remaining 30 per cent from internal continuous assessment.
Each subject examination consists of two papers. Paper one focuses on subject knowledge and is subdivided into two sections. The first section is made up of short-structured questions, and multiple choice questions for some subjects. The second section of paper one also focuses on subject knowledge but requires more elaborate written responses. Paper two covers the subject application (or methodology). The sections are structured in a similar manner to paper one. Teaching practice (practicum) and long essays, in which students have to write on an approved topic related to teaching and learning, constitute separate examinable subjects. Students have to pass the teaching practice before their remaining subjects can be considered for assessment.
Candidates are required to obtain at least an average pass mark of 40 per cent in both papers before they are awarded a pass in the subject as a whole. Teaching practice is supervised by college tutors using a one to five grading scale that is related to specified competencies, skills and attitudes in teaching. There is some dissatisfaction with this mode of assessment because it is perceived as too subjective and unrelated to clearly articulated criteria.
It appears that very few students fail teaching practice and the long essay examination. Students who fail in more than two subjects, apart from the long essay and teaching practice, are deemed to have failed the entire examination. Only a few students fall into this category. Students who fail one or two subjects, apart from the long essay and teaching practice are made to resit and pass them before they are certified. All such students, however, are permitted to takeup teaching posts while preparing to re-sit the examination. Thus, all student trainees are guaranteed a teaching post after training irrespective of whether they pass the final examinations. Those who fail, however, receive the untrained or pupil teacher salary that is less than that for the trained teacher, until they pass the resits.
Continuous assessment is conducted in each college and comprises 30 per cent of the total marks for each subject. Marks for continuous assessment are submitted to the Institute of Education and combined with marks from the external examinations to arrive at a final score. It is difficult to ascertain a correlation between continuous assessment and external examination marks in the absence of rigorous analysis. Theoretically, it can be argued that since tutors continuous assessment takes into account a much wider range of skills and knowledge, compared with that of external examinations, a moderate correlation can be expected. In practice, however, it appears that continuous assessment marks submitted by the training colleges tend to have a high mean and low standard deviation. In the absence of any system of moderation of continuous assessment marks, this is not unexpected.
The current method of assessing teacher trainees based on summative end-of-year assessment through final examinations moderated by an external agency only test students ability to demonstrate acceptable cognitive objectives. In other words, the current system of assessment for post-secondary teacher education may be lacking in construct-related validity due to the highly cognitive-based nature of the content of assessment.
The introduction of continuous assessment into the teacher training system in 1989 was seen as an attempt to ensure that the assessment of teacher trainees is not entirely focused on examinations. Continuous assessment was intended to provide an opportunity for college tutors to improve the link between training and assessment. There were no clear guidelines, however, as to the nature of the content of the continuous assessment. College tutors themselves were left to determine what tasks would be continually assessed.
A study by Akyeampong (1997) showed that the introduction of continuous assessment into the TTCs has not yielded the desired effect and results. The study revealed that:
1. Tutors continuous assessment practices gravitated towards external examination requirements and continuous assessment was perceived and implemented as supplementary rather than complementary to examinations. The study revealed that a major constraint to change is the political focus on summative assessment conditioned by the examination culture.
2. Many tutors and teacher trainees recognised the importance of continuous assessment for promoting professional learning and instruction. This was not, however, put into practice. Instead, it reflected commonly accepted theoretical knowledge about the function of continuous assessment. This problem seems to stem from poor conceptualisation of continuous assessment for teacher training.
3. Generally tutors made very little use of continuous assessment results for formative and professional development purposes. The main reason for this was due to the lack of will on the part of tutors to use continuous assessment in this way because of the increased workload this generated. Also, for some there was a lack of understanding of how the continuous assessment process and results could be used to promote teaching and learning outcomes.
4. Time available for assessing students on a more regular and systematic basis was limited. This problem had arisen because of the short college year resulting from extracurricular and examination activities that took up a considerable amount of term time. Tutors preferred to use the scarce time to teach in order to complete the syllabus before external examinations.
5. Institutional support for continuous assessment in terms of professional guidance for tutors was non-existent. Again, this seems to be because of the lack of proper orientation and inadequate training in the management of continuous assessment at the institutional level.
6. There was a lack of system for monitoring and moderating continuous assessment leading to uniformity of practice across colleges. The lack of a system for moderating continuous work, at either the internal or external level, also cast doubt on the reliability and validity of assessment results that contributed to teacher certification.