Why do tests? Lesson 7

In some sistemas educativas there is a lot of testing, and in some there is very little.  I work in un sistema that is centered around tests and, very often, I don’t like what I see.

There are some children who have goodness only knows what going on in their vidas personales.  There are children who didn’t understand en clase and who have a deep belief that they cannot achieve.  If these children get a test to do that is mostly beyond them, it will only strengthen negative and damaging beliefs. The exact opposite of what teachers should be aiming to do.

There will always be some children who pay attention in class, who are able to focus, who understand first time and who go home to supportive familias where there is time and space for revision and homework.  If these children know what is going to be on a test then the chances are that they will get a very good mark.  That’s fine for them … but it might exacerbate the negative effects on the first grupo de niños that I talked about.

Why do tests at all?

Tests that are built into un curso can be a great parte de una educación.  They can help niños focus on what they have learned so far.  They can serve as markers of achievement.  They can build confianza and group unity.  But in order to be truely useful the people who take those tests need to be able to get most of the questions correcto.  Here are my guidelines to assessment for learning.

  1. All tests should help learners learn (the only exception is the final exit exams used by employers etc.  The final GCSE exams en mi caso).
  2. All niños should be given suficientes oportunidades para estudiar en clase to the extent needed for them to easily secure 80% of the marks in the test.
  3. Marking should be generoso, not pedantic.  With lenguajes, el gol es la comunicación.  If someone misses off un acento or gets the spelling a bit off, no importa.  El objeto is to comunicar when you travel or do business.  Plus, there is plenty of time to get spelling accurate later.  I am not saying don’t correct, but I am saying don’t dock points for it.

Tests should be una celebración that helps learners to feel good about what they are learning.  They should NOT compound disadvantage.  If we build confianza in our schools better learning will definitely follow.  Have a look at the powerpoint that I used to help children revise their first Spanish learning. You can see that I used this test after siete clases. If you have any questions, no dudas en contactarme.

Spanish lesson 7 Powerpoint

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