Throughout the world exams are used as the primary means of measuring children’s progress but does this mean they are the most effective way to do so? Examinations start as young as seven years old in the UK and continue throughout the school system. They are often criticised for causing undue pressure on pupils but they are also criticised for what they claim to show.
The uniformity of exams is often cited as a reason for them being an objective way of measuring progress. This can also be seen as a negative factor. Because exams standardise knowledge, there is a possible negative knock-on effect on critical thinking skills, preventing students from developing a well-rounded education and skill set.
Tests also standardise intelligence, which should be recognised as a broad spectrum that is far from uniform. Some pupils will struggle with the pressure of exams and do poorly as a result – leaving to them being labelled as less intelligent than counterparts who do well. Really, intelligence can’t be measured like this because one pupil may have better reasoning while another is more practically minded. There are clearly several concerns surrounding standardised testing but could an alternative method provide a more balanced measure of progress?
Adaptive Testing
This computer based model will automatically discover the key areas for improvement. If a student gets a question wrong an easier one on the same topic will be generated, if they get it right a harder one will come up. This will tailor the test to student abilities. The questions are all taken from a bank of questions which means progress can be measured against others. One concern over this method is that it requires a large bank of questions and in some topics this may be unfeasible.
An incredibly practical approach, which will immerse the students in real-life situations and see how they react. Pupils will experience simulations on a computer. It examines how knowledge is applied. This would be difficult for core subjects such as English or maths but for more practical subjects and HNDs it would be far more appropriate than a standardised test.
These will support coursework and can be used to measure progress over an entire course. The student will continually update it with their work and will receive regular feedback from an external examiner. This allows for progress to be constantly measured. Most applications of this are in more practical subjects and qualifications but it could be used for other more traditional subjects too.
Do you think testing needs to be radically changed? Share your thoughts on our social media pages.