For many of our families and students, test results rank very high as a way in which they assess their progress and success. Test (assessment) scores have been used as a means of evaluating student success since the birth of formal education. For many years, schools around the world implemented formal assessments to evaluate student success as well as evaluate their own success as a school. Curriculum was designed to meet the expectations for success on these assessments, and schools began to look closer at their summative and formative assessments to see if they were in line with the formal assessments that were being implemented in other countries.
In recent years, there has been a lot of research done on how we learn and what education is. Researchers studying the human brain have focused on the neurological processes that take place during the learning process, and a bulk of their findings fail to support traditional approaches to assessing students. As a result, many leaders in the field of education have come to question the effectiveness of “Testing” as a means of monitoring student growth. As I have mentioned in previous articles about the process of learning, it has become abundantly clear that all students learn in different ways. We know that there are students who are visual learners, some that are auditory learners, and others that are kinesthetic learners. Furthermore, we understand the importance of creating an environment that is conducive to learning as well as implementing differentiation into our lessons.
So much has changed since the inception of formal education, yet it has only been recently that we have taken a closer look at the role and purpose of assessments. Educational Leaders have been taking a closer look at the effectiveness of “Formal Assessments”, and the recent scandals involving wealthy parents paying to have their child’s scores changed have directly affected the way in which schools are looking at scores and the validity of the assessment data.
In a recent PBS News Hour report, they mentioned that due to the recent scandals, one in four educational institutions in the U.S no longer require SAT or ACT scores as part of their entrance criteria. This is a drastic deviation from what was formally recognized as a standard requirement to enter higher education institutions. Additionally, it was mentioned that just last year, forty-one schools eliminated this requirement, which has been the largest number to date.
The purpose for my focus in testing trends is to highlight to parents about the cognitive shift that needs to take place within our own perceptions about education. As adults, what we perceive as fundamental requirements to get a good education has drastically changed. Universities no longer focus on SAT or ACT scores as a significant measure of success. A recent analysis by the Georgetown Center on Education suggests that the 200 most selective colleges and universities already look at more than a candidate standardised scores.
Assessments will always be part of the educational system and will always play a role in the education of students. However the emphasis placed on the results of these assessments is changing. SAT and ACT scores have been under review, and there are now many schools that do not require TOEFL or IELTS assessments because of programs called CAP (Conditional Admission Program).
As an American school, we continue to effectively prepare our students to meet the demands of a secondary education and, as part of this preparation, we implement assessments. We encourage students to do well on these assessments and we recognise the role that assessments play. But we are also aware that our students are people with diverse strengths and weaknesses, and that you can’t judge an entire person’s academic ability based on a single test taken one day out of the year.
GREGORY VAN GOIDTSNOVEN