Those who teach will not test

First post of the new year – best wishes to all – after a somewhat fallow period since the holidays began and the boys have been at home and family arrived, etc.

I haven’t created a ‘best of’ for 2005, and will not make any predictions for 2006. I know that life in perpetual beta will continue for me and I’m feeling fairly optimistic in spite of the large challenges facing human kind.

I’ve had many discussions these past weeks on the failings of our education systems (public, private, higher, government-sanctioned). Like many others I see global changes on the horizon that will affect our economic and political systems. However, in one short conversation, I believed that we hit upon a small incremental change that could have some really positive results. That is to remove teaching from assessment:

  • Anyone who teaches is not allowed to test.
  • Those who design the tests are answerable to those who learn and those who teach.
  • Those who teach are only responsible to those who learn and are subjected to tests.

Whether it be in public school or higher education, teachers should be there to help the learners. Others, who design and administer the tests must show how these tests are valid and reliable and be able to publicly defend the principles upon which they are based. When, or if, learners are tested, teachers are advocates not judges.

By removing the role of assessor, I think that we can do a lot to advance learning. I know that there are many other challenges in our education systems but this one change could be the start. I also know that this will not be a panacea, but it could give a new sense of purpose to many teachers. It does not require a wholesale dismantling of the system (not that it’s a bad idea) but is a pragmatic start while the hierarchies come to the realisation that the world is changing faster than they can even conceive of adapting.

The mantra can be – Those who teach will not test, period.

4 Responses to “Those who teach will not test”

  1. Chris

    Great idea. Never happen.I love it. A way to defuse the ultimate conflict of interest in the teaching profession. Unfortunately, this would pave the way to precisely what some teachers hope to avoid when they pass failing students; evaluation of the teachers and the teaching method.

    Just think — independent testing of students could be done in a blind environment where the tester didn’t know the student, or even anything about the student (gender, age, ethnicity, socio-economic status). This would eliminate bias (I don’t like this child, this child’s parent scares me, this child usually does better), and could lead to an independent measure of each teacher’s effectiveness.

    Yeah, I can see the teachers’ unions going along with that. Although, if they thought of it as liberating teachers from the burdens of marking (and all of the psychological baggage I outlined above that comes with it), they’d see it as a good thing. I can dream, can’t I?

    (Don’t get the impression that I think it’s a bad idea — I think it’s brilliant. Just playing devil’s advocate…)


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