David Bosso recently posted in the Centre for Teaching Quality blog. It makes for interesting reading and seems to bear out the assumption that our obsession with testing and constant assessment, does not equate to a quality or well rounded education.
Hi writes, “Finnish students do not begin their formalized education until the age of 7, standardized testing is unheard of in the formative years, and autonomy and play are encouraged throughout the curriculum. Contrast such norms to what is common in the United States, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s observation cuts deeper: “We spend the first years of our children’s lives teaching them how to walk and talk, and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.” Our system seems intent on control and compliance, rewards and punishments, and a warped sense of rugged individualism that forsakes the value and power of collective responsibility.
“Reprinted with permission from the Center for Teaching Quality, home to the Collaboratory, a virtual community for all who value teacher leadership.”
The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), has become the world’s premier yardstick for evaluating the quality, equity and efficiency of school systems in providing young people with these skills. On Finland’s early intervention program it noted,” early detection mechanisms, such as periodic individualised assessments of students by several groups of teachers, allow educators to identify struggling students and offer them the necessary support early on, before they become stuck and cannot continue their education at the same pace as their peers.”
There is a large amount of literature about this point circulating at the moment. A subject I am undertaking at Melbourne University about using textual resources in the classroom, and has mostly primary and secondary teachers enrolled, has the constant theme coming up in class discussion about how teachers would love to use the plethora of print, visual and electronic texts out there to build multi and critical literacy in their students, but they are limited by the pressure for results driven testing and assessment. Definitely something for policy makers and teacher education professionals to start thinking seriously about.