Tests are important. They can be signposts along a child’s educational journey showing us whether they have understood and where we need more revision.
Provided the tests are well written and paired with successful teaching practices and adherence to the curriculum, they can provide revealing information.
They help children to realise if they don’t study they may fail and also to be able to clearly see areas that need more work.
Judicious testing and feedback can actually help students develop resilience and awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.
However, we have now approached the over-testing zone in Australia. Many students we teach have weekly tests and their study consists of test preparation rather than carefully lessons and planned study timetables.
Anxiety is high and parents are forever talking about test results rather than progress.
Children with serious learning difficulties should never be subjected to the continuous FAILURE loop with its accompanying feelings of hopelessness and depressive tendencies.
Sadly, this is happening at a time when forward looking education systems are lessening reliance on tests in favour of improving teaching strategies and taking note of students’ learning styles.
Singapore has recently loosened the straps on their system to allow more choice, thinking skills and creativity. Children in Finland sit for very few tests and yet their academic results lead the world.
Why do Australian Education authorities choose to ignore good practice principles and continue with over-testing?
Parents need to be aware when their children are being over-tested and try not to stress children about results.
Both the primary and high-school school systems need to help children learn the basics but also be challenged, extended, develop curious natures and therefore develop a deep love of learning.
Over-reliance on testing and results often means students are not given study skills or helped to develop emotional intelligence and general life skills.
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