Sunday, February 21, 2016

Doubts over standardized testing are valid; students under pressure in Hong Kong

Published in South China Morning Post, Feb. 19, 2016

Doubts over standardised tests are valid
Lovelyn Wong (“Assessment serves useful purpose”, ­February 16) advises parents not to be too hasty in calling for an end to the Primary Three Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA).
Ms Wong argues that tests help reveal students’ weaknesses and helps teachers improve their instruction.
This argument has been used to justify increased testing in the US as well.
There is no ­evidence that it is true; in fact, studies done at the secondary school level comparing grades teachers give students and standardised tests show that grades are an excellent predictor of future academic success, and standardised tests do not add additional information.
There are, in addition, plausible reasons to think that ­teacher evaluation of students is ­better than standardised tests.
The repeated judgments of professionals who are with ­students every day is probably more valid than a test created by distant strangers and given only once.
Moreover, teacher evaluations of students are “multiple measures”, done by different teachers in different years, are closely aligned to the curriculum, and cover all subjects.
Arguments for giving ­students a standardised test must be accompanied by ­evidence showing that they do a better job than grades alone.
Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, University of Southern California

Students put under a lot of pressure in HK
Students at local primary and secondary schools all have an enormous amount of homework to do and often have to stay up till late at night to finish it.
­Those secondary school students who have to study so late will ­often turn up to school feeling tired and will have difficulty concentrating on what their teacher is saying in class.
Many also have to attend ­tutorial classes and extracurricular activities which put them under pressure.
Also, with such a heavy workload, many of them do not have time to relax. They have to deal with this exhaustive ­schedule because they want to get a coveted place at a local ­university.
They see this as the means to having a good career, which will earn them a good salary and ­enable them to buy a home and take care of their parents.
Our youngsters are not ­robots. They should be allowed to spend more time relaxing.
I hope in future generations in Hong Kong, children will be ­allowed to grow up in a happier environment.
Jocelyn Fung, Tai Po

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