Students across Australia, and dare I say it worldwide, are sick of constantly being graded. Gone are the days when a child can learn to love a given subject through observation, experience, discussion and self-evaluation. Now every learning focus leads to the ultimate test of nerve – a test.
Standardised tests have absolutely ruined the enjoyment of learning. They reinforce a pecking order which is not beneficial for children. The constant grading of children make kids who try hard but struggle to perform, feel dumb and useless. It has taken over classrooms, with teachers too worried about the implications of their class doing badly to teach the curriculum the way it was designed to be taught. Instead, they are forced to teach to the tests. This involves months of practice exams. How inspiring!
Our children deserve better. They deserve to go to school without having to constantly sit for preparation tests followed by real tests followed by another set of preparation tests etc. They deserve to have their education untainted by political point scorers.
I love the backflip contained in the first paragraph of a recent editorial in the L.A. Times:
The high-stakes measurement of student progress through annual standardized tests has, in many classrooms, restricted creativity, innovation and individuality. It has emphasized the skills involved in taking multiple-choice tests over those of researching, analyzing, experimenting and writing, the tools that students are more likely to need to be great thinkers, excellent university students and valued employees. But, by pressuring schools to raise achievement, it also has ensured that more students reach high school able to read books more sophisticated than those by Dr. Seuss — which, sad to say, was a major problem a decade ago — and tackle algebra by ninth grade.
Once you have taken the “creativity, innovation and individuality” out of education there is no “but”. There is no good way of rationalising those vital missing ingredients.
Sure it’s good to have data on the quality of teaching and learning in our classrooms. Of course, assessments are a staple of education. But these dry, monotonous, pressure-ridden tests can get too much for kids looking for more enjoyable ways of learning.
If these tests have as I suspect, a negative effect on our students’ enjoyment of learning and self-esteem, is it really worth persevering with?