Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Exams Part 3

Why do we give exams Part 3?
After asking many teachers the top three answers that have been given are:
1)      “To assess, and find out actually what the students know” Rebuttal to this
2)      “If we don’t test it, the students won’t want to learn it” Rebuttal to this
3)      “Hold teachers accountable for their teaching`
Rebuttal to 3:
This reason does not even make sense to me.  If I want to make sure my doctor is being professional, would I book more appointments with him?  Should men and women see the doctor more than once a year to ensure the doctor is keeping informed with medicinal breakthroughs?
We need to start trusting our teachers as professionals, and not as people who don’t care about their career.  Are there teachers who aren’t professional? Absolutely, just as there are doctors who are not professional, or managers, or gas attendants, or dentists, etc.  In any job, career, or field of study, there are people who “fly under the radar”, but I guarantee it is not an overwhelming percentage.
One solution; “Raise the bar” by administering common exams or create benchmarks that are common for the same course throughout a school.  Your high to middle performing teachers will rise to this new level; however the same teachers who weren’t at the level before, will still remain not functioning at the expected level.  
I have heard many teachers say “Fire those lazy teachers!”.  This also is not the solution!
Talking about the systematic firings, he notes, “In the long run, it would probably be superior…to develop systems that upgrade the overall effectiveness of teachers.” He points out, however, that these efforts have not been successful in the past. But have we really tried?
Instead of trying to fire our way to the high performance of Finland or anywhere else, why not try to emulate the policies that these nations actually employ? It seems very strange to shoot for the achievement levels of these nations by doing the exact opposite of what they do.
We are playing with students’ marks and confidence levels by worrying about whether or not a teacher is doing his/her job.  This needs to stop.  Trust the professionals, and you will see teachers starting to create new and innovative ways of assessment. 
I truly believe we will then witness ground-breaking and truly inventive ways of differentiated assessment.  We need to stop the idea of “Every student can learn differently, but all have to demonstrate their learning the same and on the same day”.
I have addressed the top three reasons of why teachers give an exam, but I ask this, if you are administering exams in your school, why do YOU give exams?

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