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Sunday, 13 March 2011

Too many tests, too little evaluation?

DS1 will be sitting the official Department of Education selective high schools tests on Thursday morning. Then, on the following Saturday, he will be sitting a similar test ($20cost ) for the local (non-selective) public high school in order to be considered for their 'gifted and talented' class in Year 7 (1st form) next year. He will also be sitting a similar test ($60 cost) a few weeks later for the '7X' (Year 7 extension) class at a nearby public high school (which has a good academic record, similar to mid-range selective high schools).

Then, after the school holiday, he has an 'entry test' to sit for Sydney Grammar private high school, as well as another test (~$80) for a chance at a scholarship.

While I can see that standardised testing is required to 'rank' students applying for selective high schools, extension/G&T classes, or private school entry and scholarships, there seems to be a huge amount of redundancy when a student has to sit a handful of extremely similar tests within a month or so. The cost and waste of time hardly seems justified when practically all these students will have sat the DET selective high schools test, so the official 'score' provided from that test (which incorprates a school assessment component based on the Year 5 Naplan test results) could easily be used by the other local public high school for their sorting of extension/G&T class applicants and also those students that seek entry and/or scholarships for private secondary schooling.

Aside for the cost and time involved with all this testing, there also seems that there will be little useful feedback as an end product. Despite there being up to four test papers (in English/comprehension, mathematical ability, general ability ('IQ'), and creative writing) for each of the five tests DS1 will sit, for most of these tests the only feedback will be a single 'test score' number and the offer of a place or scholarship based on the test result.

Surely such a large amount of testing could provide some useful feedback and evaluation of each student's areas of strength and weakness? At least then a comparison of the results from the five different tests would indicate how accurately the tests reflected the true abilities of the student, and aid in designing a customised education plan.

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