There is a testing fixation controlling  many authorities on this planet.  The  3Es [Execrable, Emetic and Excretal] scatalogical activities in schools are replacing the 3Ls [Learning, Love and Laughter] and the 3Rs [Reading, Riting,Rithmetic].   [1. Assessment 2. Testing]

There are  very good reasons why blanket testing should be completely banned from school premises.

1. It is unnecessary. Teachers know their pupils well.  Without any hesitation they can rank achievements in various undertakings and give a good estimate of performance of each individual.  They have a workable knowledge of many devices that can be used to share the evaluation of each child with pupils and parents. Now, they are forced to use only a government-controlled method. Just one.  Really, it is no one else’s learning business but the pupils, but the government insists on an anti-learning control system of what happens in classrooms and then has the temerity to publish the dodgy results.  Mutual evaluation of the pupilling processes is destroyed and fear of being branded unkindly takes it place.

2. Blanket testing of any kind is grossly immoral. Yes.  The unfortunate pupils are forced to go to school and have no say over whether they want to indulge in  time-wasting government-initiated interruptions As pupils, they know their responsilities.  It is extremely inappropriate for Governments to take advantage of their law-controlled confinement and infringe their civil liberties without wide debate and  discussion  amongst those who care for them. If teachers and parents do not embrace the radical consequences of  system change, it deserves to fail.   Were Australian P.& C. Associations asked for their opinion before the 2008 introduction of vast system change from a learning system to a hard-data system? Did Principals discuss the limits of their duty of care in such circumstances?  Litigation in the future is a certainty. The morality of hard-data based teaching can be very messy.

3. State imposed blanket testing is wasteful of school time.  It tends to replace each school’s evaluation processes and replaces learning time with test-preparation time.  No school worth its professional spirit would do what is now demanded if the special ‘revolution reform’ had not imposed perverse test-based activities on them. Each school is jealous of its reputation and must substitute practising for the tests for more useful learning. It’s expected.  It’s forced on them. Time would be better spent on teaching pupils HOW  to share their progress with respected and trusted others. Nobody seems to have thought about it.

4. It is a costly campaign.  Test-construction and administration requires high-level spending on perso of them nnel, offices and equipment.  It is money that has been diverted from learning resources. The cost should be accurately published each year.

5. It destroys curriculum spirit.  Effective and life-lasting learning is on-going, developmental and joyful.  Each school develops curriculum plans in tune with its clients whom they know very well.  The nature of the children’s background varies from school to school.  Teaching plans are made in accord with a  curriculum that suits.  What else can be said ? A blanket testing regime that supports the jaundiced view that fear should be a prime motivator does not appreciate the meaning of ‘curriculum’.

6. Reliability is questionable. University of Melbourne  Researcher Margaret Wu maintains that tests will lead to unfair comparisions between schools and that “…any suggestion that teacher performance should be determined by such measurement is of serious concern.”  Further, she said, “It should be made clear to parents it is only a single test, and does not reflect where their child is at.”

However, it is not so much how accurate tests may be. It’s their negative effects on teaching and learning that deserves close attention.

Confirmation of  deleterious effects are conclusively revealed in articles printed in the Queensland Teachers’ Union publication ‘Professional Magazine’, November 2009. In telling articles by highly- respected academic reseachers, there is sufficient evidence for the national testing program to cease forthwith.

One can feel for the test constructors. If they have had any school experience, they will be conscious of the damage that they are doing.  I  was a  testing fixated Principal, but I didn’t think professionally.  I thought that mad fear-driven regular testing was the best way to ‘get’ results.  I constructed tests using the best-known academic advice on test-construction and I ravaged the school presenting them each month and, later, each term.  Report cards were based on them.  As well, each Friday I would issue Year level tests in the crucial aspects of Mathematics…Tables, Mental, Notation, Sums, and Problems.  I then expanded this to Friday afternoon testing of aspects of English Grammar….Syntax, Analysis, Parsing, Sentence Correction.  I also had unannounced occasional classroom visits with some on-the-spot tests. I over-killed. I damaged many. I’m sorry.

It was two Year Two pupils, whose names I well remember who shocked me into learning that what I was doing was a barren exercise and that I was wasting valuable learning time. Indeed, I was ruining it.  That’s another story.  [3. Jacqui & Peter]