My concern, after the last four posts, is that the trend is towards, not away, from standardised testing, in spite of educators’ awareness that they don’t work. Klenowski and Wyatt-Smith (2012) call for several changes to the way they are administered. Firstly, they argue that testing authorities should acknowledge what they can and can’t achieve with tests. Secondly, they call for teachers to take a more active role in making judgements about students’ achievements, in more complex and nuanced ways than just by a test. They also argue, and this is for me key, that literacy and numeracy skills are not removed from the curriculum areas in which they are embedded. How can literacy and numeracy can be tested independent of other knowledge? And, surely literacy and numeracy is not separate from the Arts, Sciences, History, Geography, Drama you get the idea, in which it is practiced.
I don’t think we’ll ever get away from standardised tests, I think we need to moderate their influence and admit what they can and can’t do. I know it’s trite but, as Einstein is said to have said, although it wasn’t Einstein, it was actually William Bruce Cameron (1963, p. 13):
It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.
Surely, what’s true for sociologists is true for educators. And, just maybe, what we’re counting with standardised tests doesn’t count, but what we sacrifice for teaching to the tests just might.