I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!

I completely and utterly detest standardised testing. My Grade 3 students are just 8 years old. How unbelievable insensitive of our Federal Government to subject these kids to a week-long torturous array of formal testing!  These kids have had little to no experience with test papers and exam conditions, and no matter how calm and stress free I am trying to make my classroom, my students know that it’s coming and they don’t like it one bit!

HIGH STAKE standardised tests, such as NAPLAN, are having a negative impact on children with experts saying such examinations reduce the ability to learn.

Nationwide testing of students in years 3, 5, 7, and 9 was introduced by the federal government four years ago to allow parents and teachers to benchmark the numeracy and literacy levels of individual children and specific schools.

But a review of academic literature on the issue released by the University of Western Sydney’s Whitlam Institute revealed national testing programs such as NAPLAN were a source of significant stress for young people and their families.

Institute director Eric Sidotti said schools can become ”emotional cauldrons”.”It should come as no surprise that the introduction of a national regime of standardised external testing would become a lightning rod of claim and counter-claim and a battleground for competing educational philosophies,” he said.

The review found ”a range of concerns” about the reliability of standardised testing, quality of learning experiences, structure of the curriculum and health and well-being of children.

There is also evidence of negative effects on service delivery; professional-parent relationships; and stress, anxiety, pressure and fear experienced by students.

Research also found a negative impact on teaching, with standardised tests putting pressure on teachers to emphasise results over holistic learning.

”Teachers will focus on the areas in which students will be tested, while reducing the proportion of class time devoted to curriculum areas not included in state tests,” the review notes.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said tests measuring the progress of more than a million Australian students over the past four years allowed parents to identify schools where students achieve comparative improvement over peers of a similar background.

Ms Gillard said NAPLAN lifted the academic performance of students, giving teachers feedback on education strategies and providing disadvantaged schools with access to extra funding.

”We want every child in Australia to have access to a world class education,” she said.

”My School is pivotal to this. It helps us see what works and which schools need support to improve.”

There is nothing positive to come out of these tests. It negatively affects the way my students view learning, it affects the way I teach and it prevents what should be a fun year from eventuating. If you want to test high school kids, go ahead. But leave my Grade 3’s out of your mean experiment!

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2 Responses to “I’m Just Gonna Say It: Standardised Tests Suck!”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    Does Julia Gillard have an Education degree? In the 1960’s NSW students were routinely subjected to an array of “Basic Skills Tests” for the exact same reasons cited for the administration of the NAPALM Tests. By the 1970’s these tests were consigned to history for the very good reason that their administration did nothing for the education of NSW children. They were expensive to administer, though teachers did the scoring (Hmmmm!) The exercise effectively removed a week form the school year. After their demise a few schools continued to use these tests as a way of measuring student progress but since the tests contained material that was not in the curriculum, that practice very soon withered on the vine.

    The danger with the NAPALM Tests is that they are becoming the de facto curriculum, causing the real curriculum to wither on the vine. I guess in every field of human endeavour there are those who try to reduce everything to a set of numbers. Education has its own share of reductionists who seem totally incapable of perceiving the value of a rich curriculum. “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.”

    I look forward to the day when the syllabus is written in pencil, able to be modified and enriched by creative teachers on a daily basis as they respond to the changing needs of their students. Surely students are what education is about. The philosophy of reductionism may have a place in some fields but it sucks the oxygen out of the air of education.

    One of my daughters is a gifted art teacher. As a result of the HSC she had a Tertiary Entrance Rank of around 30 (i.e. no chance of entering University). She was able to go to University on the strength of her Art portfolio. Since becoming a teacher she has taught not only Art but students with intellectual disabilities and Mathemetics. Her work is highly regarded by her peers and her supervisors.

    Down with the NAPALM Tests, I say.

  2. Blame Game « Rumblepups Says:

    […] end the blame game in education and really focuses on the students. Furthermore, this blog on Standardized test elaborates on how these test hinder the educational experience for students. It is time to end the […]

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