Are Tests really necessary?

I am a researcher on educational methods and I (no offense indicated to anyone’s methods of learning) have found that continuous assessment leads to constant stress in students; some suffer burn outs, some suffer mild to extreme depression and a few resort to drastic coping strategies such as drugs or suicide.

As a child I hated tests too, not because they were hard; but because they were too easy,  bothersome and constantly getting in the way of actual learning. Remember the days you used to spend revising for tests. Personally, I have found that constant reminders in class and lively discussions with tea and nibbles, teaches a child much better than testing him or her every week; it is so because unlike the teacher, who is teaching only one course, the students takes five to eight courses in a semester, which piles on  homework, projects and tutorials etc. on the hapless students.

I live in an institute for gifted children, and I see first hand, what an over the top study regime does to a child/ teenager. Constant assessment does not overcome the obstacles in the studies; it simply ignores the parts which children do not understand. This leads to gaps in education;if ignored these gaps change into big gaping holes of ignorance over time.

Annual or semester end exams, on the other hand have the huge problem of a big pile up of study materials. The end result, in both cases, is not pretty. A student is either willing to learn or he/she is merely plodding through enough to pass. Keeping in mind that some of the really brilliant people of our times, did not do well in school assessments what should one think? Open to interpretation!

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13 thoughts on “Are Tests really necessary?

  1. Norman Van Treeck October 15, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    How interesting. When I was in the Navy I was stationed at a research center that developed tests for the military. I was also trained as an instructor. We were always told that tests we only to be used to judge how effective the students understood the material, and could help you gauge the effectiveness of your teaching. I have never subscribed to testing for testings sake. In law school, the once a year, or semester, test that would make or break you was a tremendous burden since each subject had their tests within the same two week period. Lots of late nights. I don’t have an answer, but your article brings up some VERY valid points.

    • Sasha Hunter October 16, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Thank you for the thoughts. Since I have started blogging I have gotten opportunities to talk to people from many different eras of life. Any new perspective on the ways to improve the ways I get to look at life and educating people is very welcome.

  2. bklynboy59 October 16, 2012 at 12:25 AM

    Maybe there is a middle ground for tests, depending on what the subject is. I didn’t like test especially on the subjects I was weak at, yet education like many things in life are based on tradition, for example if the generation before took these test and it was good enough for them then it is good enough for you..Another point to keep in mind education isn’t a priority with children as much as video games are, they will master a complicated video game and play it for hours, yet have trouble spelling simple words. Tests can be used to gauge the effectiveness of the teacher too, are they truly reaching the students, more than how much the student really knows.

    • Sasha Hunter October 16, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      I admire your thoughtful words. I do believe that children pay more attention to video games because they are designed to hold attention whereas current education is boring and tasteless. I have learned more from the Discovery channel than my books because I loved watching it. Hope that gives you a new thought of teaching. Exams in my class were a joke to me mainly because I was astonished by people mugging up mindless trivia for a day which they promptly forgot after tests.

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  4. mymezzaluna October 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM

    Very interesting. I can tell you right now that my son is is bright and able really suffers with all the testing that goes on in schools. As you said each subject teacher just keeps piling on the work. How do they expect children to cope with the pressure of tests, school performance and extra curricular activities?

  5. tscoley October 19, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    My son struggles with his exams but does will with his classwork. I definitely think our kids are overloaded especially during exams.

  6. modernteacher27 October 19, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    Maybe it’s the type of assessments that are not effective. We need to have a way of evaluating that makes sense for not only the evaluator but the evaluatee. Traditional assessments without meaning or relevance to the real world is not effective. If students know what standards need to be accomplished to reach their goals than tests may have meaning. Students also need to have multiple ways to reach them.

  7. DonaTo October 19, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    This post is brilliantly written. Your passion is to be admired. And I couldn’t agree with you more. The teachers I remember are the ones who actually taught me something. So much time is wasted having to memorize something you will soon forget.

  8. Cornelius Agrippa October 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    My daughter decided to skip several of her grade exams for the ‘cello because she felt tests were a waste of time and interfered with her enjoyment of music. She eventually achieved a professional standard and was first ‘cello in the London Schools Symphony Orchestra (which has attracted internationally famous guest conductors), and went on to join the University Orchestra at Oxford. Frequent tests in my view signify lack of confidence – either a lack of confidence of teachers in the quality of their work or a lack of confidence in the teachers by the government. “The mind is not a bucket to be filled, it is a fire to be kindled” – Plutarch

  9. (that's me) in the corner... October 19, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    Couldn’t agree with you more. As the mother of a very bright 15 year old, I see this played out daily. How about more critical thinking and practical application, not mindless regurgitation for testing. Thanks for checking out my blog as well. Blessings to you.

  10. R October 20, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    Very interesting, this would be a good editorial in regional & national papers.

  11. Alycia October 20, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    I’d should test with you here. Which is not one thing I normally do! I get pleasure from studying a publish that may make people think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to remark!

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