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Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching

The rise of standardised testing has replaced authentic teaching and learning with a saturation of practise and formal testing:

SATURATION testing is seriously undermining the quality of primary school education and should be stopped immediately, parents and educators claimed yesterday.

Thousands of kids are subjected to trial exams every week in the lead up to the compulsory Naplan tests, as well as exams for opportunity classes or selective high schools, and coaching by private tutors.

But while Naplan, which forms the basis of performance ratings on the My School website, focuses on literacy and numeracy, experts claim they are being “taught to the test” at the expense of other areas such as arts, physical education and music.

With the barrage of testing beginning in kindergarten, education consultant and public schools principals’ forum official Brian Chudleigh said the system was “out of control” and skewing education in the wrong direction. A former senior principal who is the education expert for The Daily Telegraph’s People’s Plan, Mr Chudleigh said the testing regime was contributing to a “massive dysfunction” in the state’s education system.

“We have become a system that is manic about measurement – the main problem is that it is so convenient for the politicians,” he said. “They want to reduce things to the value of a percentile or a number, and that has an impact on education.

“If a kid can’t be measured they don’t want to know about it.

“It reduces the value of anything that you can’t measure and the curriculum becomes focused on the measurable stuff,” Mr Chudleigh said.

“So the development of the whole child – including socialisation, emotional welfare, physical fitness and cultural factors – are relegated in importance.

“Many schools are having two or three lessons every week practising Naplan-style tests and that takes valuable teaching time away from other subjects. A lot of the best stuff we do with kids, particularly in primary school, is not measurable.

“It’s out of control. But our universities are littered with these kids who don’t do as well there as the generally all-round educated students.”

Federation of Parents and Citizens’ Associations spokeswoman Rachael Sowden said being taught to the test was “not what parents want”.

“They do not want to know that their child scored three marks more than the kid down the street,” she said. “Parents are as concerned about the whole child and how they are going in creative arts, physical education and music as much as in literacy and numeracy.

“Parents do want to know where their child is up to at school and they do that best by having a conversation with the teacher.”

I hate having to prepare 8 year-olds who have never sat for a formal test before for the rigours of the 3 day marathon that is NAPLAN. It’s just not fair! They are too young!

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3 Responses to “Too Many Tests, Not Enough Teaching”

  1. makethea Says:

    Reblogged this on makethea.

  2. John Tapscott Says:

    For 7 years I taught a class of children with “intellectual disability”. The two main criteria for eligibility for my class were that children had an IQ below 70 and were aged 8 years or more. As such they were exempt from the NAPLAN tests. Wasn’t that a bonus?

    At 8 years of age most of these children needed to be taught to read from scratch. This did not mean phonics, although phonics became increasingly important in their program. The first stage in learning to read was concept building. They needed to know that each written word represented a spoken word. Labels were put up all over the classroom. Children learned to recognise labels on pictures. Children were encouraged to draw and to label their drawings. Sometimes a sentence was written under a drawing to describe the drawing. (e.g. This is a cat.) The children’s drawings were scanned into the computer and the text was typed underneath. eventually each child had enough pages to be printed and bound in book form which became their readers.

    Craft was always an important feature of life in the class. some of their creations were photographed and captioned to provide further reading experience. (e.g.Today I made a coffee table.) Andx the resultant book was a report on the process of making whatever it was the child made.

    Another feature of life in the class was shopping and cooking giving further opportunity for both literacy and numeracy development. Children completed cloze passages of recipes with the list of ingredients providing a word bank.

    There came a time when each child had amassed a sight reading vocabulary sufficient to begin analysing the sounds in different words. This was the beginning both of spelling and phonetic reading strategies. Reading and writing came together.

    I tested these children every 6 months. Nothing as involved as the NAPLAN. Simple Reading age tests, one in June, a different one in November (administered individually). Because these children remained in my class for 4 years I was able to trace their progress from age 8 to age 12. Every student improved their reading skills. All children gained in reading age at least 3 years, from 5 (baseline) to 8. Those that attained a reading age of 9 years were considered to be independent readers, meaning they could pick up a piece of age appropriate text and read it without the need for prompting.

    What do the NAPLAN Tests show? Half the class will be above average and half the class will be below average. This is not good enough. We want all our students to perform above average. (Duhhh)

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