Saturday 31 October 2015

Education, testing, knowledge, testing, education, testing

1. Make claim that education has gone to the dogs.
2. Make even stronger claim that this is because teachers are lazy, bad and wrong-headed.
3. Turn the claim into a fact.
4. Announce 'reforms' which you say will 'turn education round'.
5. These reforms are based on new kinds of tests.
6. These tests test a narrow range of ability, capability and response.
7. Link the tests to tables that rank schools, and to inspections which are punitive not advisory - that's to say 'not helpful.
8. The tests narrow the educational experience of the children down because teachers, quite rightly, want to do the best by the children and their school.
9. The tests become one of the key means by which schools can be closed and reopened according to a model that the government has come up with.
10. This model passes the property of the school over to a 125 year lease to the company or organisation that now controls the school.
11. There is no evidence that this process of changing the school makes it 'better' by any of the criteria that the government has itself come up with.
12. The fact there is no evidence for this is acknowledged by everyone, even the very people who enact the school-changing process.
13. Across the school-system, a good deal of the tests and exams have been altered so that they are much more 'knowledge-based'. This is justified on the grounds of rigour and liberation for the previously uneducated.
14. In actual fact, these knowledge-based exams and tests simply make it easier for the exam-system to micro-mark pupils as 'right' and 'wrong'. This is the exact opposite of 'knowledge is power'. It's 'knowledge is segregation'.
15. All the tests and exams are in any case 'norm-referenced'. That is, there is a pre-judged 'curve' that the exams have to adhere to. Put another way, the failure rate is fixed before the students sit the exams. The knowledge-based curriculum simply makes it easier for the examiners to choose the failures. So, far from liberating the previously un-liberated, the knowledge-based curriculum simply makes it easier for the exam system to dump the so-called 'failures'.
16. All statements about whether the school-system is getting 'better' or 'worse' are now based on these tests and exams.