Day 124 (of 184) but aren’t test vital for ‘next year’?
Would it surprise you to know that as a graduate from a BC Secondary School I have written 0 provincial exams? In fact (due to bad reasons) I didn’t write any final exams in my grade 12 year. I still went on to UBC.
I also managed to teach in a wide range classes K-12 (English, Comparative Civilizations, and frequently in grade 4/5) in my career that led me to my role as a Principal. Surprisingly, my lack of ‘test experience’ hasn’t impacted my learning journey…
But it has caused me to struggle with the notion of ‘test practice’ to get students ready for ‘next year’. I always preferred to encourage my kids to ‘change’ their next learning environment. And I wonder if there isn’t just a little bit of “we had to write final exams, so these kids need to as well” going on….and the familiarity of the angst, pressure, and ‘tradition’ of compiling a whole lot of learning into a single test.
And I wonder how much my own experience of being ‘good enough’ at the final exams I did complete – yet that not being much different than the demonstrations of learning I had been modelling each year…..and in fact that was mirrored when I had a discussion with an assistant superintendent who was reflecting how her own senior math final exams essentially confirmed what she already knew – which of course led to the question ‘why was the re-confirmation needed’.
I have several times supported changes in practice – moving away from spelling tests (probably brought in the most amount of parents for ‘chats’) – math assessments that were descriptive feedback focused with a variety of activities – personalized learning experiences (since morphed into #geniushour) – and a variety of other differentiated approaches to learning, none of which lead them selves to a single/standardized/common final exam.
I hope the trend of more personalization and less standardization continues – especially at the end of the year – although I ‘like’ a new rationale for ‘year end exams’ that I recently heard: how else will we keep the students coming to school when the weather gets nice?
Still some work to be done – but if no final exams worked for me….