After doing a reading for another class that I am taking, I became aware that the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education is planning to implement standardized testing as a way to improve student achievement. I think it’s great that the government is trying to do something to improve student achievement, but to be honest, I am not happy with the method they have chosen. I believe standardized testing should only be mandatory for classes who do not have certified teachers, which is how it currently is.
The only advantage that I can really think of for this is that for those teacher’s who either slack off or don’t challenge their students enough (and we all know a teacher or two like this), this could bring into light their poor or ineffective teaching methods and could then force those teachers to either put more effort into their teaching or make changes to their teaching methods. This could also work the other way. If a teacher is very good at their job and can effectively teach their students, this could help show this hard work and dedication.
The disadvantages I feel heavily out power the advantages to this method. One disadvantage is that it could hurt a good teacher’s reputation if student’s decide to not take the test seriously (as I have known quite a few people who do so, although mind you this has been when these tests have not counted for marks, maybe this will change once they become graded). This would reflect badly on the teacher since the Ministry would see these low test scores and think that it has something to do with the teacher, rather than the lack of care of the student.
In addition, this could cause both teachers and students a great deal of stress. For teachers, they need to make sure their student’s are prepared for these tests or else they will not do very well which would then put the fault on the teacher for not preparing them well enough. For the student, taking an exams are stressful enough even when they are aware of how the teacher’s testing style is. Not knowing this and not being used to how the questions are worded can cause a student serious amounts of stress (I can even say that this causes me stress!).
Another disadvantage, which is my biggest concern, is the fact that teachers could potentially start teaching to the test rather than teaching for learning and understanding (and this has been known to happen quite often!). For as long as I’ve been in school, I’ve always been asked “Would you rather fail a test but gain a great deal of knowledge out of it? Or would you rather pass a class but gain nothing from it?” Of course the answer everyone would expect to hear is the first, but I feel that the latter is what could be the result if we assess students by using standardized testing methods. I think that teachers are going to forget the real purpose of teaching and focus mainly on getting the “good” grade.
Since I don’t think the government is going to change their mind about this, at least not until after they’ve tried it out, I believe that we as teachers need to approach this with caution and make sure that our teaching focus remains on teaching students so they can learn, and not just teach to the test.
Here’s a website that talks about the advantages and disadvantages for those who wish to do further reading!
Thanks for reading 🙂