Considering the fact that school teachers cannot be masters of everything including how to properly write tests to reflect the learning situation in the classes they are conducting, non-standardised in-school tests are quite useless and should be done away with. The system should focus instead on actual learning and daily/weekly/monthly observation records of learner progress. This doesn’t have to be tedious if user-friendly, intelligent forms are drawn up for the teachers to tick and keep track easily. Precious time is wasted on monthly and bi-semester tests, IMHO.
The task of evaluations should be centralised at state or national level the years prior to the SPM exams. A department of pedagogical experts in each subject could create test packs with a questions databank which accurately reflects objectives of the curriculum for each semester. With the technology widely available and relatively inexpensive, test packages can be put on cd-roms and sent to schools or uploaded on a website with secured access. Teachers then have the flexibility to choose the number of questions, question types and difficulty level to suit their group of learners.Schools can work at their own pace inside a semester.
All the teacher has to concern herself with is to help learning to happen in meeting the requirements of the curriculum. The effectiveness of a teacher can be tracked and consistent performance in improvements from semester to semester be used as a yardstick for remuneration.
In this way, teachers are not only working towards perfect scores, which can be very deceiving,
but instead, working towards semester on semester percentage improvement. A gradual improvement shows a mastery of skills. Teacher set tests can be manipulated to project false ‘high scores’. It is widely known that many students can ‘score’ fantastic marks in language papers but their real life abilities reflects severe gaps in knowledge.
High scores are not an indication of learning. All you have to do is randomly pick a high-scoring student from a high-achieving school and ask them to converse or share their opinions in that given language, written or spoken. A blank look or a desperate attempt at fluency would be the giveaway, don’t you think? It is a commonly known phenomenon where Malaysian students are experts in mimicry and regurgitation and absolute vessels in common sense and its application. This applies equally to all subjects.