Focusing on standardised testing

16 10 2010

Hatto sent around an interesting article during the week where an ‘Institute of Education study finds exam performance improves if students concentrate on learning rather than grades’ Results_Exams. This seems to be reflected in the finish education system which has topped the programme for international testing (PISA) tables over the past decade or so yet has minimal focus on standardised testing. They don’t begin primary school until the age of 7 and then only attend 4-5 hours per day (Worlds_School_Systems_Final, 2007). “When we want the elephant to grow we don’t measure it, we feed it.” -a typical Finland School response to compare with American education.

I find it interesting that Australia is following countries that have implemented a strong focus on standardised testing and yet these countries perform to a lower standard then Australia in all aspects of PISA. More so the fact that the U.K has in some ways acknowledged that implementing a stringent standardised testing regime has not achieved what it had hoped and is moving away from this model (scotland & Wales drops standardised tests).

Many would argue the HSC values memorisation over the higher order skills it aims to develop in students. Learn the syllabus, your content and examination technique and you are there. Textbooks and teachers can & do the higher order thinking in a lot of cases for the students so they have the answers to get good results on the ‘test’. Hence the problem – high stakes testing takes the focus away from learning and towards doing well on the test.

The video below talks about this and many other issues with schooling that I guarantee if you start watching you won’t stop. Well worth the time investment of 12 minutes.