I love it that my students are happy in the classroom. I think when they are happy their receptors work better. I teach 12-14 year old students, and I must say, it is rare to find one thing that will make all of them happy. But there is one thing that will always bring in negative feelings: tests.
I don’t like that we base the grades of our students mainly on tests. As a teacher, when I see a student disturbing his classmates, behaving in a disrespectful way, doesn’t do his homework, mocking his friends, and at the end of the day achieves an “A” in the exam, I think that basing his grade on the exam is wrong in every educational aspect possible.
At the same time, I see another student, working hard, listening, doing all her duties and more, being all around positive, team player – and gets a “B” in her test, I am asking myself what sort of message would I be sending by basing the grade on her test.
But more than that – I see how at least 80% of the students become super stressful in the test, because it means so much in term of final grade, and that stress makes me sad.
Some of them make “stress mistakes” which are really obvious. But I think that all around the system is relying too much on the tests as if this is what defines the student. Is it?
I want my students to be happy as they learn. Celebrate the joy of discovery and illumination. The darkness that comes with the tests, in their current meaning, is distracting and distressing. Not to mention, when you prepare students for tests, you do not necessarily teach them.
There are many alternative ways of assessment today. We do not need to rely so much on tests. It is obvious that if my grades would be based on a portfolio – than the hardworking student wouldn’t get a lower grade than the student who doesn’t work at all. I also would have loved to let the students check their own tests. Perhaps not call it a test at all. Use it as the tool it is: a way to better understand what we know and what we should learn better. That student who sent me a presentation he created on the topic of the test should be awarded for the great learning work, even if he gets panicked during tests.