Opinion / Blog

Oh, not tests again!

By TedM ( Updated: 2015-03-16 16:13

So which of these are the reasons for tests in China? Experience tells me that they are largely an assessment of facts, learned by rote from text books, and the results are rarely followed up with action.  Possibly I am wrong but if not, it makes testing here largely useless other than to unfairly judge teachers or for students to gain entry to further education.

For comparative testing, scores need to be “value added”. Comparing one person or group with another will always be unfair because every person and group is different. They cannot be compared “like for like”. Teachers are often evaluated poorly, based only on their classes test scores. This produces totally false data; a bad teacher with excellent students achieves high scores and credit, whereas a good teacher with a difficult class will get lower scores and be criticized. To get realistic data on which to judge performance, there must be a “value- added” score.

It seems that every single week there is some test that interferes with lessons and the normal running of a school. It is as bad to over-test as it is to under-test. Effective tests need planning, delivery, assessment and follow-up action. All this takes up valuable teaching time. Teachers are encouraged to only teach to the test requirements. This is not effective education. Teachers and students can become bored, stressed or indifferent about testing if over-used.

Results of tests shown on a graph of distribution should look like a hill; low at each end and rising high in the middle. The weakest and the best students will be either end of the graph and the average students will be the larger number in the middle. Any other shape of graph may indicate a badly constructed test, a test that is too difficult or too easy, or dishonest results. Some schools in China demand high scores from all students (95 - 100%), which is unrealistic. To avoid criticism from leaders and parents, a teacher may create easy tests or be dishonest or generous in marking. The results are not a true indication of a student’s abilities or weaknesses. Such scores are useless for future planning, remediation or an assessment of effective teaching.

To conclude, tests should be for good reasons and the honest results used to improve students or situations. They should be fair, and the scores “value-added”.  Team sports should provide enjoyment and exercise, encouraging sharing and co-operation before being competitive. Testing in PE is only needed to assess fitness, and fine and gross motor control.

Now I will go to judge a competition for students marching around the playground. Maybe there will be a test about it later. All the students will get over 95% of course, including the boy who broke his leg last week!

The original blog is at:


Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Viewed Today's Top News