Monday, 4 February 2013

Why the testing always?

Why do politician seem obsessed with audits, and getting 'Little Johnny' to sit exams, have you ever wondered why?....I was wondering why when I was looking at a Estyn Report into the state of Education on Ynys Môn back in 2012, and .....they started to talk about 'outcomes' which in my book can only mean one thing - economists, you know the people that try to turn the 'real world' into a 'model' based on 'rational decisions and thoughts.'

So I can imagine at some time in the past Estyn will have organised a seminar, and at that seminar Professor Posh Name Loads of Titles will have been invited

And Professor Posh Name will have studied some schools in a thesis which allowed him to reach a conclusion..and suppose...they just happen to agree with your already preconceived ideas. You know the 'bloody hell I knew I was right all along' moment.....And you might forget to question the validity of what Professor Posh Name is saying, you assume his conclusions are correct - take for instance the Nobel Winning Economist Milton Friedman whose ideas are in the large now discredited. So there is a possibility that might say policy was determined on preconceived ideas and a flawed model.

Now further in the report they also talked about costs per pupil, and that means 'accountants'. They are the Auditors and they measure everything. And Terry Pratchett has them spot on in his Discworld series of books.

Let me give you an example: think apple trees - Auditors will ask how does your apple tree compare with the neighbours apple tree. And they'll invent the juice ratio - how much juice per apple. Whereas we might ask how do the apples taste?

And in the world where we measure things, to justify the monies we all are spending 'Little Johnny' needs to be tested, so we can all clap yourself's on the back and say look how good they did....aren't they clever. In a way we are measuring 'success' how successful a school was compared to the 'average' success of all other schools.

But how can you quantify success? - especially if it's a common measure of success for kids, all of whom will have different abilities, who also will have different ideas what success means. It shouldn't mean that just because all the clever kids go to the clever school, the other schools are somehow less successful.

In say a world where success is quantified by height and one day a year they measure height of kids, and have the height model, to compare against to see how much the kids have grown, does is make sense that a school is said to be failing because on the day of the test the tallest kid was off ill. Not forgetting that as Head Teacher it makes sense only to encourage the tall kids to come to my school.

To me it makes no sense putting pressure on primary kids to sit exams, for us to find out something that in the real world is meaningless, you know what's the saying one size doesn't fit all. If I had kids (I don't by the way before you ask) and wanted to know how 'Little Johny' was doing I'd ask the teacher, I'd trust them more than some auditors who visit the school once a year. Or dare I say I'd actually ask 'Little Johnny'. And we know this approach works because it works in Finland, where the key to success is trust in teachers.

For the record of the subjects I talk about above, education and economics I'm an expert in neither - which to some is probably stating the 'bleeding' obvious..

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