Fun to read the student and parent comments about the local testing going on this week across the province- Are taking such tests work? Indeed- and they are also an opportunity for students, teachers, parents and schools to better understand basic expectations for and per grade level, and then to put those expectations into perspective. The test itself will not prevent any student from moving forward to the next grade level nor will it prevent teachers from continuing to recognize a student’s other achievements or contributions to the class as a whole- holistic assessments and evaluations are in practice in general across the board and in each teacher’s room. Whether we label such ongoing (throughout the school year) assessments authentic, or give a grade point for specific project based work, it is fair to suggest that teachers today continue to recognize their students’ participation and growth over the ten month journey.
Much has been written comparing Canada and other countries in terms of curriculum development and success on tests- there seems to be a big shock that a country like Finland which respects its teachers, helps individual students, and encourages healthy play (exercise and free play) has produced top students- why the surprise? If education is genuinely meant to improve the lifestyle of whole communities, and not merely be a playground in which competition is taught, then it stands to reason that a school culture which encourages helping every learner through multiple means, will produce learners who value the effort expended- who note when educators go the extra distance to encourage a student to practice- perhaps practicing differently from earlier attempts, but indeed to practice, until each learner will feel a sense of worth from the active learning that ensued. Education will continue to be a hot topic, even more so when elections loom and politicians recognize how dear and important the future generation is to the current crop of voting public. And “Education” with a capital E will continue to be debated; best practices, goals, ROI, to test or not to test; college, university, future job corps… In the interim, the sun has come out again today, and ideal practice suggests, all those test taking students- take a break!, and whatever constitutes play- Enjoy.