Friday, April 10, 2015

It's a "Testing-Crazy" World.

So this might turn out to be a bit of a "blog-rant" but the constant testing HAS TO STOP!. The BBC reports today that 4-year-olds are to be tested in the UK in reading, writing and maths. It seems that politicians, in particular, see the only solution to the improvement of education is to do more testing; test infants, test children, test students, test pre-service teachers, test teachers. Why do we never test politicians?

As stated in the Beeb article the primary reason for testing 4-year-olds is to provide a baseline by which the education system can be evaluated. This is basically another cry for teacher testing and yet another example of politicians' lack of confidence in teachers and the teaching profession.

And all this happens, of course, at a time of a general election in the UK when each party needs an extra plank in their platform. Education is  an easy target because it is so easy, through the manipulation of numbers, to show how poorly students in one country such as the UK or US are doing compared to students in another country such as Singapore. The same is beginning to happen in the US as we gear up for the 2016 presidential election. International test score comparisons such as TIMMS and PISA are readily available and provide instant numerical comparisons. The unfortunate thing is that politicians, of course,  fail to mention the fine details such as in Singapore there are special schools where all students with special needs are sent so the scores do not reflect the effort that goes into teaching the whole student population.

Tests, such as the SBACS, currently being administered in Vermont schools, test only what is easy to test. They only provide a brief, momentary, narrow snapshot of what children know and understand. The scores are also heavily swayed by a students ability to master the computer skills required to take the test.

Nobody knows a student as well as the teacher who teachers the student. Nobody who lives 300 miles away can possibly be in a position to truly assess what a student knows and understands. 

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