A visitor from the past would be most shocked by modern belief that a set of questions given students are the best measure of how they think or they level of intelligence. Of course, Abe Lincoln came from a disadvantaged family and would most probably today be identified as an individual whose family background precluded great success in school. Test papers for English 11 year olds arrived after being graded by those who deem to know how to take a test. Test papers included examples of the word ‘distinctive” being marked as incorrect and the test marker indicated the word should have been spelled, “destinctive.” Rachel Ross, headteacher of Woolton Hill junior school in Newbury, exclaimed: “there are lots of errors. We feel somebody has rushed through with the marking and didn’t apply the marking scheme as well as they could have done.” Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers in the UK claims “one in five grades have been inaccurate.”
It is time to end the mania of testing and return to the concept that teachers know best how to evaluate learning. Yes, there are a high percent of incompetent teachers. That means head teachers and principals have to dismiss those who cannot teach. But, in the end, it comes down to teachers making decisions concerning learning, not men and women sitting thousands of miles away from the classroom deciding what was learned in a course.
This is my 53rd year in education. I don’t know many truths about teaching and learning, but I do know standardized testing reduces learning to the lowest possible common denominator.