The Guardian EFL section
- A few days ago I sent a review of some teaching news sources at the New York
Times web site. Unfortunately, the NY Times doesn't have any information
specific to EFL teaching.
The British newspaper, The Guardian, has quite a bit on EFL and you don't
have to register. They have articles touching on methodology, professional
development, jobs, schools, problems and new developments. It is not as
focused as a dedicated EFL web site but it does supply a good amount and
As for the rest of the newspaper, the Guardian is pretty good at presenting
news that is not exactly along the US or British "party lines", a bit of a
critical view at times which is a bit refreshing.
Guangzhou | Reflective teaching in China | www.davekees.com
- Dave wrote:
...as we can see, exam orientated education is not limited to China.
It's become the new thing in the US as well.
"High-stakes Testing" has been a political issue (political in
terms of government, but also "political" in the broader sense)
in the US for a while now.
All you have to do is google that phrase to come up with many
position statements by educational organizations, most of them
against the exclusive use of high-stakes tests as an educational
There are people in favor of the type of testing that has been
increasing in the last 10 years or so in the US (obviously), but they
are not so easy to find on the internet.
Below are the first paragraph or two of a number of different
positions or summaries of the perspectives of different educational
organizations on the current trend in the U.S.
AERA Position Statement Concerning
High-Stakes Testing in PreK-12 Education
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the nation's
largest professional organization devoted to the scientific study of
education. The AERA seeks to promote educational policies and
practices that credible scientific research has shown to be
beneficial, and to discourage those found to have negative effects.
From time to time, the AERA issues statements setting forth its
research-based position on educational issues of public concern. One
such current issue is the increasing use of high-stakes tests as
instruments of educational policy.
This position statement on high-stakes testing is based on the 1999
Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. The Standards
represent a professional consensus concerning sound and appropriate
test use in education and psychology. They are sponsored and endorsed
by the AERA together with the American Psychological Association
(APA) and the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME).
This statement is intended as a guide and a caution to policy makers,
testing professionals, and test users involved in high-stakes testing
programs. However, the Standards remain the most comprehensive and
authoritative statement by the AERA concerning appropriate test use
American Psychological Association
Appropriate Use of High-Stakes Testing in Our Nation's Schools
How Should Student Learning and Achievement Be Measured?
Measuring what and how well students learn is an important building
block in the process of strengthening and improving our nation's
schools. Tests, along with student grades and teacher evaluations,
can provide critical measures of students' skills, knowledge, and
abilities. Therefore, tests should be part of a system in which broad
and equitable access to educational opportunity and advancement is
provided to all students. Tests, when used properly, are among the
most sound and objective ways to measure student performance. But,
when test results are used inappropriately or as a single measure of
performance, they can have unintended adverse consequences.
Summary of a position statement of the International Reading
Association: High-Stakes Assessments in Reading (August 1999)
The International Reading Association strongly opposes high-stakes
testing. Alarmingly, U.S. policy makers and educators are
increasingly relying on single test scores to make important
decisions about students. For example, if a student receives a high
score on one high-stakes test, it could place him in a honors class
or a gifted program. On the other hand, if a student receives a low
score on one test, she could be rejected by a particular college.
These tests can also be used to influence teachers' salaries, or rate
a school district in comparison with others.
The Association believes that important conceptual, practical, and
ethical issues must be considered by those who are responsible for
designing and implementing testing programs. Assessment should be
used to improve instruction and benefit students rather than compare
and pigeonhole them.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics believes that far-
reaching and critical educational decisions should be made only on
the basis of multiple measures. A well-conceived system of assessment
and accountability must consist of a number of assessment components
at various levels.
High-stakes tests are tests that are used to make significant
educational decisions about children, teachers, schools, or school
districts. To use a single objective test in the determination of
such things as graduation, course credit, grade placement, promotion
to the next grade, or placement in special groups is a serious misuse
of such tests. This misuse of tests is unacceptable. The movement
toward high-stakes testing marks a major retreat from fairness,
accuracy, and educational equity. When test use is inappropriate,
especially in making high-stakes decisions about a child's future, it
undermines the quality of education and equality of opportunity.
Just as disturbing as the serious misuse of these tests is the manner
in which the content and format of these high-stakes tests tends to
narrow the curriculum and limit instructional approaches. Test
results may also be invalidated by teaching so narrowly to the
objectives of a particular test that scores are raised without
actually improving the broader, often more important, set of academic
skills that the test is intended to measure.
Karen Stanley [ karen.stanley @ cpcc.edu ]
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
- dk <davkees@...> wrote:
This article helps to bring into perspective the issue of exams and teaching for exams. China has been faulted in this regard by foreign teachers as well as Chinese teachers. But as we can see, exam orientated education is not limited to China. It's become the new thing in the US as well.
The concept and culture of an exam oriented education is quite different in China than what it would mean inthe US. In one way or another exam oriented education is universal.
- We are fascinated at the stories of CET which we have said for some time we doubt we could pass ourselves. What exactly is the GE8 that many of our co-teachers speak of sitting?
We are considering internal assessment next semester for our first and 2nd yeaR English Majors, writing that is. Has anyone tried it???? Any thoughts??
> This article helps to bring into perspective the issue of exams andteaching for exams. China has been faulted in this regard by foreign
teachers as well as Chinese teachers. But as we can see, exam
orientated education is not limited to China. It's become the new
thing in the US as well.
>And in UK as well. It was pushed in the Thatcher years and is still
being promoted by Blair. However, there is resistance from teachers.
one problem is that the testing doesn't seem to be able to measure the
true ability. You can test for memorised knowledge and you can test
for ability to complete specified tasks but neither of these tests
measure the skill that more and more jobs need nowadays. This skill is
the ability to apply your knowledge to solve problems outside a
I still think the testing situation in HK is far worse and rather
different from that in UK. I found examinations and teaching methods
and attitudes in HK repeatedly and systematically tried to divorce
the subject of study from the real world. Information was memorised
purely as information not as something of practical use. mind you,
when we do try and make our teaching practical and utilitarian the
real world often stymies us because the real world is so much wider
than the classroom so even if the classroom had more links with
reality it wouldn't solve the teaching or the testing problems.
- This article helps to bring into perspective the issue of exams and teaching
for exams. China has been faulted in this regard by foreign teachers as well
as Chinese teachers. But as we can see, exam orientated education is not
limited to China. It's become the new thing in the US as well.
It has a certain attraction. There is the practical business minded belief
that everything can be measured. However, measuring educational progress is
not a simple matter. And there is the danger that if the measure becomes the
target, the education will then aim for that target only.
This can lead to cheating and corruption, not necessarily on the part of the
students, but on the part of the teachers and directors of schools.
Many teachers in the US are against this initiative. Some of their reasons
are given in this article.
Some School Districts Challenge Bush's Signature Education Law
By SAM DILLON, Published: January 2, 2004, NY Times
READING, Pa. - A small but growing number of school systems around the
country are beginning to resist the demands of President Bush's signature
education law, saying its efforts to raise student achievement are too
costly and too cumbersome.
The law, known as No Child Left Behind and signed in January 2002, seeks to
raise achievement by penalizing schools where test scores do not meet annual
targets. It is the most sweeping plan to shake up public education in a
generation, as well as the most intrusive federal intervention in local
schools. But until recently it had provoked little more than grumbling,
though polls showed that educators in most of the nation's 15,000 districts
considered several of its requirements ill-conceived.
Full story at:
Guangzhou | Reflective teaching in China | www.davekees.com