An issue that has been discussed for a long time, without having a conciliatory answer been found, is whether class teachers should be the ones who create the exams for their students or if the tests should be drawn up by the educational institutions or someone else. There are even people who think that the evaluating tools should be produced at a supra school level and be used by the different schools.
The problem is that assessment is necessary for different reasons and for different purposes. As professional educators, we know there exist placement, formative, diagnostic and summative evaluations. The first is to classify and place our students; the second, to ascertain the pupil-progress from time to time; the third tries to identify the learning impediments or drawback of pupils during instruction and the fourth is to assign grades to the students and determine whether they should or should not be promoted.
So a class teacher can design a test to establish if his objectives had been accomplished, but a school may wish to know if the standards of a class are in accordance with the official program or the level of other institutions. Therefore they may be better with a standardized exam. For an educational organization which has several or many teachers delivering the same course a standard exam could just be the measuring stick to gauge teacher performance and results.
The success of standardized international exams resides precisely in their capacity to determine the real level of learners’ proficiency in the language, something that the usual classifications of teaching institutions fail to do (Beginners, Intermediate, Advance, etc.)
So, there is no formula to prepare efficient evaluation means without determining first what we wish to evaluate and with which purpose. The type of assessment and evaluative tool should be based on that. And different types of assessment may not be combinable but you can alternate them, although you should be careful not to overwhelm students with too many or too frequent evaluations.
On the other hand, we cannot overlook that exams have a negative side
too. Since their outlook becomes so important for the future of students their whole learning activity becomes oriented towards achieving good grades rather than learning. Studies made in Great Britain revealed that students under pressure to perform well in tests obtained lower grades than others that were simply encouraged to learn. Another study showed that when teachers focused on their students’ learning, the students became more analytical than when the teachers concentrated on their pupils’ exam results. That some students get demoralized by bad exam performance and that provokes a bad attitude towards studying is also a reality witnessed by many teachers.
In sum, evaluating should not be just considered a habit or something we have to live with or even abuse of, but when we prepare to do it we must be very clear why we do it and what we pretend to do with it and use the appropriate tools in accordance with that.
Now is your turn:
Your pupils study to learn or to get good grades?
Is taking test a positive experience for your students?