Recently, news media have increased the amount of accountability teacher’s face because of their focus on test scores, which are not exactly high for most schools. Claiming that teachers have not done their jobs, these media have pushed politicians from all around to support testing-only ideas and I do not think it is fair. Though there is some proof that select high school graduates still experience difficulty with reading, writing and adding, the media and politicians around cannot blame just teachers, especially because of the lack of personalized education they push for. Though I do not necessarily agree with testing-only ideas, I cannot say I do not understand why officials want concrete evidence to support today’s schooling. Overall, I believe testing is important, but I do not condone testing only, rather I support other effective ways of assessment as well as instruction.
There are many effective ways, formal and informal, to assess students and teachers other than testing. Formal assessments include anything planned in advance which is used for specific purpose (Ormrod, 362). Usually, formal assessment follows a set time and students are aware the testing will occur. While this form may seem productive because students are allowed to prepare, it is not because students don’t really know what to expect from the test. In many cases, students “study all the wrong ideas” and fail. From here, it seems students become discouraged and lose educational momentum sometimes giving up altogether. Though formal testing has its pitfalls, I can also see its benefits. One major benefit includes instantaneous thinking which leads to realization of real-world problems. By pushing students to think on their toes, these kinds of tests can foster more mature thinking and reasoning as well as prepare them for their future which may sometimes work in the same way. Additionally, these kinds of tests often highlight important standards for moving on to the next grade or level of education.
I previously mentioned that formal tests can sometimes benefit students because of their emphasis on real-life preparation. Obviously, because life is not always strenuous, formal testing is not ideal for every learner. In a lot of situations, formal testing actually fosters confusion, panic and total information loss because of what I like to call “thought overload.” In these cases, informal assessment would be a better route to trying for evaluating what has been learned/is being learned. Informal assessments are usually spontaneous, day-to-day observations of what students say and do in classrooms (Ormrod, 362). These types of assessments are beneficial because they come without the added pressure of standardized tests, thus allowing students to be more free-spirited and show what they really know. This type of assessment also allows teachers to notice which instructional strategies they use work and for what students. They also allow for teachers to clarify any confusion about material presented. Further, these informal strategies hint at the social, emotional, and motivational processes students go through which are typically difficult to identify.
Though I believe testing is not the only way educators can assess their progress as well as their students’, I must say I do not completely disagree with testing. I believe rounded education involves personalized instruction which can reach a variety of learners. As I have stated, informal and formal testing are BOTH needed to adequately judge today’s students’ progress.