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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Doing the George Costanza in China

So China is now deciding that for public education, the idea that testing is best, is now going out the window.  From The Answer Sheet at the Washington Post:

China just began a major education reform effort that is aimed at reducing the importance of standardized testing in determining school quality and including factors such as student engagement, boredom, anxiety, and happiness. 

As scholar Yong Zhao notes in the following post, the approach is the opposite of the education reform path in the United States, which in recent years has increased the importance of test scores for accountability purposes.

We all know that China was never famous for individual thought or creativity.  But even they seem to realize to create a better educated populace, that testing will not do it.  They realize that using only test scores to send students to higher level schools is a bad idea. 

From the Chinese Ministry of Education:

“However, due to internal and external factors, the tendency to evaluate education quality based simply on student test scores and school admissions rate has not been fundamentally changed,” says the document. “These problems [of evaluation] severely hamper student development as a whole person, stunt their healthy growth, and limit opportunities to cultivate social responsibilities, creative spirit, and practical abilities in students.”

I know.  The U.S. is not China.  But given that the top-performing countries in the world - Finland and China - are not using testing as the main evaluation of their teaching outcomes, the U.S. might want to consider what it's doing.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finland should not be so highly praised for Math achievement.

Yes the Finns scored high on the PISA math test of 15 yr-olds. but.... PISA is not a test of the mathematics base necessary to successfully pursue a high-tech technical career.

In December 2012 the TIMSS math results (from 2011 testing) were released. In 8th grade math results follow:

Education systems not measurably different than Indiana - USA:
North Carolina - USA
Quebec - Canada
Colorado - USA
Connecticut-USA
Israel
Finland
Florida-USA
Ontario - Canada
England

Education systems higher than Indiana:
Korea
Singapore
Chinese Taipei
Hong Kong
Japan
Massachusetts - USA
Minnesota - USA
Russian Federation

=====================

8th grade Math -
percentage of students reaching the advanced international benchmark
:

49% - Chinese Taipei
48% - Singapore
47% - Korea
34% - Hong Kong
27% - Japan
14% - Russian Federation
12% - Israel
9% - Australia
8% - England
8% - Hungary
7% - Turkey
7% - United States
5% - Romania
5% - Lithuania
5% - New Zealand
5% - Ukraine
4% - Slovenia
4% - Finland

========
-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Remember that the bulk of the Asian countries only have their best schools/students take these international tests. The late Gerald Bracey used to document how the Asian countries would cherry-pick their testees, whereas the US officials would throw in various groups - like kids who'd never taken Algebra before - just to see what would happen.
All these scores should be taken with large grains of sea salt, as there is no way to have truly matched groups.

CT

Anonymous said...

How well do the EOC exams match the curriculum? After a year of Algebra 1 that my daughter breezed through with a very easy A, she took the EOC for Algebra. She said it was very tough but that she thought she passed. Does the EOC go beyond Algebra 1? Does SPS Algebra 1 not match up well with the EOC? Given how easy my daughter found Algebra 1, I was really surprised at how challenging she found the EOC. And if a child that is excelling in Algebra 1 finds it challenging, is it any surprise so many kids are having a hard time passing it?

HP

Anonymous said...

I don't have experience with the Alg 1 course and EOC, but it's easy to see how the actual instruction could be less comprehensive than the exam, even if (and it's a big if) there is alignment. Our experince in middle school has been that some classes make more progress than others, for whatever reasons. Could be that some teachers are better at pacing than others, with some classes no making it through all the material. Could be that struggling students require more class time to be spent reviewing material rather than covering new. Or maybe teachers give homework and exams that are too easy, giving students false confidence. I'm sure there are other possible factors as well. Still, the degree of alignment would be nice to know. Even with a bad curriculum, the same basics should all be covered, no?

HIMSmom