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(Exam and Assessment) Situation in US, HK and Finland
Situation in the USA
Dr. Stephen Krashen: “The United States Department of Education has an obsession with competition. We’ve got to win, we’ve got to be number one in everything we do.
The Race to the Top increase testing, my estimate, about 20 times what we had before.
The effect of taking a standardized test to predict college achievement, the SAT. The SAT added nothing to the prediction. Teachers’ evaluation of students is the best measure we have.
A heroic movement called Opt-Out. Opt out was begun by parents, public school teachers and a few university professors on zero budget.
It spread by word of mouth. In New York State last year, 20% of the public school students eligible to take the test, did not take the test.”
Situation in HK: TSA & PISA
Professor Esther Ho: “Both PISA and TSA are actually system level assessment as I said before, but then during the process we will use this score to identify individual school. So for TSA, the government has individual school ID, so they can really abuse it, not just misuse it, to make school accountable for the percentage correct, report every year to individual schools, but that is not fair, particularly for TSA, because in the primary level, all students are entering their schools by residential criteria, also will have very different family backgrounds.
Actually we have a very comprehensive assessment system if we stop the TSA in this little area, that won’t ruin the whole assessment system. We still have many different kinds of survey to understand the school.
In 2014, a group of international scholar including Stephen Ball, Henry Giroux, wrote an open letter to Andrew Schleicher, the leader of PISA since 2000.
They said, PISA tests are damaging education worldwide.
While standardized testing has been used in many nations for decades, PISA has been contributing to an escalation in such testing and a dramatically increased reliance on quantitative measures.
This emphasizing a narrow range of measurable aspects of education, take the attention away from the less measurable or immeasurable educational objectives like physical, moral, civic and artistic development, our student self-concept, anxiety, all the non-quantifiable items are less emphasized anymore because every three years, when they report these international results, the media always focus on the ranking.
So this kind of assessment regime is controversial if it’s a continual cycle of global testing, it will harm our children and impoverishes our classroom, and even de-skill the teachers, and then also endanger well-being of students and teachers.
I think HK should join the US movement, No Unnecessary Testing, the NUT movement from Stephen, and then really create the space to really nurture the competency, the soft skills, the passion and compassion of our students. And then really review the roles of all kinds of exams and tests on student learning, particularly when the test is hurting children at a very young age, what should we do as responsible adults? These adults are not just about the parents. They include the teachers, school administrators, principals, policy makers and scholars.”
Response: Prof. Hau Kit Tai, CUHK: “I think we have a wrong focus because if we want to change the system, we have to work on high stake ones. So in HK in particular, we have to work on the high stake secondary school placement system, which TSA does not serve this purpose. TSA is low stake or no stake system by design.
Response: Legislator Ip Kin Yuen: “KT just say TSA is a low stake testing according to design. But just according to design. We all know that it has become a very highstake assessment in reality. So that is the problem if we do not face this reality, we miss the point.”
Mediator: Prof. Stephen Chiu, CUHK: “We don’t want to compare school with factories. But if you have two factories, one has a good output with standard working hours, another one has better output but with a lot of overtime work, which one is the better factory? Which one is more productive.? That’s something that we have to put into context.”
How do they test and assess in Finland?
Dr. Kristiina Erkkilä: “There are no national authorities for testing learning outcomes, nor are there any ranking list. Moreover, there is no school inspector. Evaluation of learning outcomes is based on national surveys. The aims are to produce information for both schools and students to develop.
The whole purpose to evaluate is to support learning of a student. And I think who does best is the teachers who are very close by, and the other adults and themselves. We have a strong emphasis on self evaluation, and also evaluation by their peers and by their community, because we also engage the families and the parents in participating in the growing of the child.
We are not perfect and we have problems being a remote country with a lot of darkness and harsh weather. Life is very hard in Finland too, but maybe in different respect. So may I said we try to keep our school a pleasant place and not add to that pressure in schools. “