Curriculum As Outcome

Standardized Testing…where to begin. There has been some talk as to incorporating standardized testing into Saskatchewan’s education system. I am not sure why anyone would see this as a useful approach to educating our students except for drilling the same equal knowledge into each and every one of them. That still, to me, is not a positive teaching strategy.

In Alfie Kohn’s video he shares that teachers can achieve much better testing if we avoid using a Provincial test, that when we rely on such accountability we are undermining the quality of instruction we could potentially provide our students. Teachers become controlling and will dumb-down the learning if we assume everything can be measured.

This is proof that everyone is harmed; yes teachers may feel proud or successful when their class reaches high standards, but their teaching abilities are being ignored. Students are not able to learn as much as they could and teachers are unable to address our lived curriculum, making those connections between real life and written curriculum to further their students’ knowledge. These tests measure information that has little to no importance. It suggests things like how affluent their families are or how skillful they are at testing. Standardized tests even make excelling students less successful as their way of understanding is too advanced for what is expected.

From experience writing CAT tests, there was always exam anxiety attached when writing but when we would ask our teachers if the marks we got on the exam went onto our report card, he/she said no, then we wouldn’t try as hard. The test was used to see how well the teachers were meeting their expectations, not how well we did individually. Then marks would return and be publicized, which was humiliating for students who did have to try really hard to pass and still did not do very well.

In the words of Kohn, “We need an approach to education that is about learning, not testing”, I could not agree more. We should be opening the ‘curriculum’ and opportunities for our students to learn, not narrowing it down and teaching to a test. Saskatchewan will make a huge mistake for our future children if we do not continue providing them with a much more successful educational approach.

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