THE revised Standard-Based Curriculum for Secondary Schools (KSSM) and Standard-Based Curriculum for Primary Schools (KSSR) will be implemented this year, said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.
This means there will be more tests, evaluation and assessment.
Many view tests as bad for learning. It makes students’ lives terrible and affects teachers’ morale.
It slows opportunities for productive and meaningful teaching.
Henry L. Roediger, a cognitive psychologist at Washington University, the United States, studies how the brain stores, and later retrieves, memories.
He found that taking a test on material can have a greater positive
effect on future retention of that material than spending an equivalent amount of time restudying the material.
Students who want to memorise information should retrieve that information from their memories, rather than review the material from notes or text.
Tests ask students to look into their wells of knowledge, locate information and express that knowledge on pages.
Many tests, including standardised tests, measure developed know-ledge or abilities.
They are “statistical summative”, in that they measure students’ knowledge or ability at a fixed point in time.
Summative tests do not allow for educator inputs during tests and are not intended to shape future teaching.
Thus, no learning takes place during or as a result of tests.
Complaints that excessive testing detracts from learning are aimed at summative testing.
As for formative assessments, they discover what students do and do not know to shape teaching during and after tests.
They are also meant to expose gaps in knowledge at the time of the assessment so teachers may adjust future teaching and allow students to learn the information they left out.
Educators should use formative assessments early and often to strengthen learning during the unit rather than waiting until the end and giving a summative assessment.
These repeated appraisals control the most ineffective kind of learning, in which students wait until just before tests and study the material in a brief period.
Knowledge learned through cramming is less durable over time.
Standardised assessment is rare, high pressure and high stakes for teachers and students.
The federally-administered test score results can seal the destinies of schools, educators’ jobs or students’ instructive future.
They are distressing for all.
When educators expose students to frequent low-stake tests to reveal gaps and foster active, continuous engagement in the material, students are given more ownership and power over their education.