The anti-testing debate rages on, with an editorial this week in tes magazine.
Standardised testing has many advocates and many critics and I don’t intend to be one of them in this post. But what I am interested in discussing is what is the link between the attitude towards the results of standardised tests and the effect.
The tes editorial was a discussion of testing in the US. One box questioned whether American students are “really over-tested?”, and the justification for suggesting not (“The US is not a country of heavy testing”) is its comparison to other countries. Andreas Schleicher (the OECD’s education chief) suggests that plenty of other countries, with better educational outcomes, test a lot more. I wonder whether the reason there doesn’t appear to be a backlash against them might lie in the attitudes towards those tests. Perhaps the reason Americans feel they are in an educational regime of over-testing is because the stakes are so high. If teachers are at risk of disciplinary action as a result of these tests and if students are told the results of these tests will dramatically impact their futures (graduating, going to college, getting a “decent” job, being successful, being happy – the subtext behind all this rhetoric is quite alarming) then even with fewer actual tests than other countries, the culture may feel like there is ongoing testing.