Tuesday, May 5, 2009


So my coworker and I were eating dinner and discussing testing. My school doesn't have standardized tests, which in my coworker's opinion, is a good thing. He cited the following reasons:

1. The teachers will start to teach to the test, because schools/administrations will be unlikely to change it from year to year. This puts any new teachers at a serious disadvantage since they won't know what's on the test but all their coworkers will.

2. There will be serious competition among the teachers, for who can get the best testing scores. And I can imagine that those who aren't actually that great of teachers would be pretty angry, and not so happy working there. And defensive and blaming their students and coworkers, etc and it could perhaps not be a pretty sight.

However, I think it could be good for the following reasons:

1. Some of my coworkers test on some crazy stuff and it warps my mind to even think about it. Like making their students memorize the American constitution or tongue twisters. Basically, testing them on crap that is not in the book that we've been assigned to teach. It makes sense to me to test on what you've been teaching all semester. But not to all people it seems. Standardized testing could make it a lot more fair for the students I think.

2. The good teachers would be rewarded. Or at least get some positive reinforcement. The bad teachers, who are ineffective at teaching could be weeded out.

3. The testing would be a lot more objective, versus the somewhat subjective speaking tests that most of my coworkers and I do.

4. It would take a lot of stress away from the teachers. University students in Korea expect to pass every class, even if they're put no effort into it. If you fail them, they'll often come to you at the end of the semester, begging to pass. But a big standardized test, say worth 50% of their grade takes a lot of the power away from the teacher and puts it in the hands of the administration. It could actually be a good thing I think.


Jason said...

This is something I've been dealing with too--especially when a test is co-produced with colleagues of varying training levels, experience in Korea, and talent for teaching--add personality to the mix and you get varying results.

Unfortunately for Korea, academic testing at the university level has so many issues that final grades, diplomas, certificates, and degrees all have a taint on them that cannot be removed (in my mind anyways) . . .

How can an instructor believe the performance evaluations on paper that come from a system that openly and actively discourages university instructors from failing students who should not be passing . . .

I don't know what the solution is . . . but standardized testing brings with it its own Pandora's box of problems.

My mind imagines kids taking it one year memorizing the content and telling the kids coming up from the year below them this info--probably for a nice cash fee, or some kind of hazing/slave type debt.

Testing . . . blah!

Jackie Bolen said...

The system of passing everyone is very disturbing to me. The degrees are not worth the paper they're written on for the most part I think.

Jason said...

I was going to say the same thing but the paranoid blogger in me refrained, lol.

I seriously wonder what will happen over the next 10-20 years when academic standards hopefully improve to global standards . . . and the number of plagiarized theses begin to emerge . . .