A Question of Evaluation
Article: John Loeppky – Contributor
Debates arising on standardized testing
In the past few months, there has been an increased level of conversation when it comes to the topic of standardized testing. With conflicting opinions on whether such tests are a good or bad thing, there is a controversy brewing.
Recently, it was announced that the Ministry would be putting the brakes on any such initiatives. Under increased scrutiny, the Ministry has made the decision to create a “prioritized plan” according to the Leader-Post. Reaction from the educational community on campus has been largely positive.
Amanda Boyd, a third year education student, weighed in on the conversation.
“I understand the basis behind standardized testing because it is a way of seeing if kids are understanding the material, but it’s being presented in such a way that you either get it or don’t. [Those who create the tests] might say there are visual aspects and writing aspects and all that. It doesn’t mean that student remembers information in a picture because they might have been presented it in writing. I see [standardized testing] as an optional thing that they could try to get their kids to do.”
Boyd goes on to say,“[The Ministry is] probably putting the brakes on it now, because they are really dealing with inclusive education. It is a lot harder to do a standard test when there are three to five levels of learning in your classroom. Honestly, I think standardized testing — if they want it to work — would have to [have] multiple levels and then the teacher would have to decide which levels (through one to five) a student could take.”
Boyd brings up a good point. It is not just standardized testing that is being halted. Other initiatives are also being delayed. Examples include the task force for First Nations education, and anti-bullying programs. In the aforementioned Leader Post article, the deputy education minister, called this move “just a few months of pause.”
The Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation has not, as of yet, produced a media release specific to standardized testing. However, an April 2013 press release on their website lists standardized testing as a possible topic of conversation for meetings held earlier this year.
The educational landscape is ever-shifting and the perspectives of each relative party have to change at a moment’s notice. The implementation of standardized testing, what seemed a highly contested foregone conclusion a few months ago, has transformed into a legitimate debate. With both sides talking and listening, everyone must hope that an agreement that benefits students and educators is reached.