Why do countries love standardized testing? What is it about these tests that are so popular? As a parent, as a creative entrepreneur, would you rather your child sit in a row colouring in ABCD bubbles, or would you rather they be actively engaged in the application of knowledge?
Sit in a row regurgitating facts, or creating new worlds?
To me, a writer - no contest. But I wish someone, anyone would explain to me why we still persist with the multi-billion dollar industry of test taking. It costs taxpayers in every country billions of dollars to produce, distribute, mark and report, and yet there is no tangible outcome to the economy (with the exception of those employed to do the former).
It ranks and separates schools by social classes; it perpetuates socio-economic divisions in societies, and yet, we will have ‘the examinations’ every year.
Scotland is no different. In fact, in the UK, the testing may be even more extreme. Starting in the third year of secondary (S3), pupils complete a full practice test, contracted out to an independent test firm to complete, and then the national examination. In total, the time dedicated to practicing, studying, evaluating, and test taking may account for four to five months of the school year, or almost one half of each year! And this does not include the time pupils spend with tutors, on their own, to increase their test marks.
As in every country, good scores for a school, mean a good HMIe (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate) inspection. This, in turn, raises the school’s profile in the rankings, and, for those parents who read these superficial rankings, moves more affluent social classes into that geographical area, hence raising property values.
Test taking is quite an industry. Real estate agents, builders, shop owners, educators, inspectors, principals, and of course politicians, all use, “[our area] scores high in the testing” as evidence of superiority. It is a self-perpetuating sickness.