I grew up with the education system uses standardized test and I guess it was advantage for me. School and teachers actually did not prepare for the test, it was up to the students. They can attend prep school or buy books on how to conquer the test. Although it was stressful and pressure was intense, I was very good with memorization, easy format to master and I could train myself for it, as well I got good scores and it enabled me to try out for a second rank senior high school in my district. In a way, it prepared me for the competitive society I was going to enter into. However, I never question on why there is standardized test then. I actually just accepted it as the way to measure students’ academic success and I just needed to use my short-term memory for the trivia type questions. I knew I would not use these information for anything else, and I don’t remember most of it.
So when I came to Saskatchewan and learned there were no standardized test, I thought that Saskatchewan education is too soft on kids, not challenging enough and/or would not prepare for the ‘real’ competitive world.
Although I disagree to the standardized test for primary school age, somewhere in my head, I still thought there is no harm in standardized test for high school students when I heard about SK government’s announcement of standardized test. I have seen students being pass through year to year without demand and becoming irresponsible to their own learning. Then they become grade 10 and realize that they have to work to get grade. The provincial wide standard may demand students some pressure to work hard and think carefully about their own learning.
I think many of you are going to disagree with me and I know I want to disagree with myself. I really do understand the cons of this standardization of curriculum and assessment tests and it will oppress minority students more. I aspire to be an anti-oppressive teacher and celebrate diversity of students, though I am conflicted with myself for seeking some kind of standard I can follow. Perhaps because I grew up in a country where people were demanded to meet the standard all the time. I think having a set standard is a comfort for me, so I know how much I need to do to meet the level I am required.
As I wrote down the paragraph above and realized how setting a standard is actually limiting one’s ability and undermine one’s thinking… how much I need to do to meet the level I am required…
Bigelow talks about an aspect of standardized tests that is offensive to teachers. The test represent the authority of the state, implicitly telling students, “just memorize the facts, kids… if teachers do any more than that, they’re wasting your time” (p.177).
Standardized curriculum and tests will take away teachers’ agency and autonomy, that would make us into robots to create more robots…
I really need to think more about this…
Standards and Tests Attack Multiculturalism by Bill Bigelow : The New Teacher Book