Assessment. Tests. Exams. Assignments.

Simon Birmingham is the Education Minister for Australia. He has recently announced plans to introduce “light-touch assessments’ for Grade 1 students.

Click HERE for the article in the Sydney Morning Herald (18 September 2017) for more on this, to bring you into the picture.

What are we doing to our kids?

More assessments. More data. Something has to give. What about giving our kids a chance to come into their own, in their own time. Teachers already collect copious amounts of data every moment of every day.

When are we going to stand up and say enough is enough? Schools are feeling more like laboratories in the way of factory farming, mass producing 1 dimensional teaching  – what about learning?

Our students have just been through a week of testing. One of the external assessments used here is…. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). We are constantly testing our kids. Analyzing the data and then trying to figure out a way to make sense of it. If a student is a good test-taker, they will make it just fine.

The truth is….. in my opinion at least, where is there room for meaningful planning, best practice and valuing real learning beyond a test or book. We have more data than we know what to do with. Teachers are already on the edge, just keeping up.

I believe there is a place for this….. a very small place. We need to slow down a little, back off, and allow our teachers to be creative so they are designing the most powerful learning experiences. Not churning through pages and pages of graphs and numbers and percentages.

I’m I the only one that is feeling this frustration? What is your stance on this matter?

Let’s not allow a raw number shape and define our kids’ self-esteem and confidence at such an influential age.

We need to be pulling good people into the profession. Teaching is such a thrilling and invigorating career path. We have a privileged role in society that is incredibly fulfilling. We need to let good teachers get on with it, and trust that good learning is happening. Invest in that, not more assessments. We are heading down a road of burnt-out and stressed-out teachers. This makes me want to remain in international schools – we are very fortunate to be in our unique situation, where we carefully think about what is important and have a voice in determining our path.

I don’t actually think people know when or how we will ever usher in an ‘educational revolution.’ I’ve just felt ripples of good educators, trying to challenge the status quo, in their own way, within their control. Where to from here?

 

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5 comments

  1. aarondavis1

    I really like this point from Margaret Wu in regards to NAPLAN:

    “In summary, we would say that a NAPLAN test only provides an indicative level of the performance of a student: whether the student is struggling, on track, or performing above average. The NAPLAN tests do not provide fine grading of students by their performance levels because of the large uncertainties associated with the ability measures.”

    I am not sure what a blanket test achieves. Maybe a lack of trust for teacher judgement?

    P.S. Birmingham is the Australian Education Minister, not NSW Minister.

    • Chad Walsh

      Thank you for the correction Aaron. Appreciated. Margaret Wu has a very good point. There are a myriad of variables that influence those factors. Everything with a grain of salt. That’s why I believe in the power of conferencing – have a conversation with students is so much more revealing.

  2. Stephanie

    In New Zealand, we say in order to fatten the pig you have to feed it, not weigh it. Seems rather apt for the standardized testing mania sweeping various locations. I’m so glad we don’t have too much in my current school.

    • Chad Walsh

      Hi Stephanie – good to hear from you! I can;t say I’ve heard that before. Makes perfect sense. Put the money, energy and effort towards feeding not fattening. We have ISA in a few months too. Where has the ‘happy medium’ gone? Once again, we’ve jumped on the word data and misinterpreted it in a way that;s once again tipped the balance.

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