There are few things schoolchildren fear more than tests. Pressure, anxiety, fear, and worry coalesce into a nasty experience which everyone hates. In turn, this anxiety hampers the students’ ability to think properly and they often end up doing worse than expected.
But, it all serves a noble purpose, or at least so we’re told. However, is it true that tests are the only way to tell whether or not a student body is learning the material? Is it effective? Well, in answering these questions I think it becomes pretty clear that tests are definitely not a productive way to spend students’ and faculties’ time.
Tests’ ultimate purpose are to gauge a student’s ability in a specific subject and to help them learn better and also guarantee they’re prepared for upcoming subjects. However, students and teachers will be the first to tell you that the unpredictability of test scenarios make it a very unproductive metric.
Just think, if you’re testing, say, twenty students, who is to say ten of them aren’t going through difficult family problems and aren’t focused on the material. How many might be sick; how many might be too nervous to think; how many might be in the class unprepared? All of these things make testing a students’ actual knowledge very difficult.
Then, the proponents of standardized testing will say that, while flawed, the testing system is really the only semi-reliable method for testing knowledge. But if you think about it, there are many other ways to test students. Teacher evaluations seem to be the most promising.
Rather than having students take tests, we could leave the arbitration process up to teachers who actually know the students. This would be tremendously effective since it would give further autonomy to the classroom and allow teachers to evaluate their students over a large period of time. That would make the analysis far more accurate.