Are perfect scores really about perfect learning?

Something truly upsets me about the way certain ‘experienced’ teachers are propagating the idea of perfect scores in tests. A consistent perfect score should give a clue that the work being done is below the potential of the student’s actual ability. Perfect scores are not the same thing as all-correct answers in a Math test.

The objective of school-based tests should be less about accuracy than it is for the teacher to gauge how much learning has happened in a class with this group of learners and whether or not the methodology and approaches applied has worked for this group or not. 

If the majority of a given class did not obtain perfect scores (depending on the median score) it can be used as an indicator of

  1. whether or not the class has academically strong students
  2. whether or not the methodologies and approaches are working and
  3. whether or not the syllabus has been written accurately enough to reflect the objective of learning and whether the curriculum meets the needs of learning.  

Test writing is such that it requires the writer (in all cases, the subject teacher) to understand the curriculum objectives, learner needs, the various methods to meet those objectives and needs and the factors involved in grading and evaluation.

It also means that not knowing why and how tests should be written defies the purpose of having tests an average of 4 times in a school year, and using those results to determine whether or not a child has ‘potential’.

The negative implications of such a system is obvious. A stigma or false praise is attached to a learner based on tests which are written, evaluated and graded in a way that does not reflect whether or not learning has happened. When test results are not up to a teacher’s expectations, the blame falls squarely on the students, not on whether or not the teacher’s approach is appropriate.


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Filed under Malaysia, On teachers, schooling, Up the ante on teaching

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