For everyone associated with schools – parents, students and teachers alike – there are times when life can feel like an endless treadmill of one test after another.
For example, this term the Year 7 and Year 9 half yearlies followed right on the heels of NAPLAN. And for any students in Years 11 and 12 it’s sometimes more accurate to ask which assessment tasks are due rather than if anything’s due.
Now, I’ve rarely met anyone who likes examinations – the very word fills some with fear and loathing – so this raises an important question: just how helpful is all this testing, testing, testing?
Like many things in education, much of the testing we do is actually determined by outside forces. But there is also much we could discuss about the best approaches to assessment, or when enough is enough. I’m well aware, however, that most of you would doze off if I went on about it for too long! Allow me say, then, that some testing is valuable and it is the mindset we bring to it that will often determine its effectiveness.
Annie Murphy Paul is an insightful commentator who writes regularly for the New York Times. Her Affirmative Testing Manifesto is based on up-to-date educational and brain-based research and I’ve included a brief summary of its key points:
These affirmative principles offer much to reflect upon for students, parents and teachers, especially as the half yearly reports will be sent home over the next few weeks. I can already see these values at work in many sections of the school, and I make no secret of the fact that I’d like to see them embedded even more deeply in future as “standard practice”.
If you haven’t dozed off yet and you’d like to discuss to discuss them further, I’d be only too happy to oblige…
Director of Teaching and Learning