Monday, November 21, 2011

Pointless exam

A few days ago Year 11 sat the French NCEA which is the end of year exam here in New Zealand. As you might be aware the exam was of a poor quality. Some questions were of a level 3 instead of level 1. French teachers have complained and you can listen to a podcast of teachers expressing their feelings.

Of course like all the other teachers I am shocked and disappointed that my students were assessed to a higher level than they are expected to work at. But I am more asking myself about the idea of exams itself.

I actually do not know why students have to sit an exam at the end of the year. What is the point ?

So you work all year around, you learn everyday more French and at the end of the year you sit an exam and then what ?? 2 possibilities here : first you carry on with French or it was your last test ever in French. Either way you haven’t learnt anything at all from this exam.

In 2011, we have seen in NZ students using more and more ePortfolios in order to not only gather evidences but also to reflect on their own progress. To me, it seems it is pointless then to ask our students to sit an exam at the end of the year. I think it would be a much better idea to ask our pupils to sit an exam during the year, give them a feedback and ask them to sit the same exam (or another one of same difficulty) and see what the progress have been.

It is common practice in other subjects to pre-test student and then retest them later on using the same test (when the learning has taken place). By doing so students can see their progress and are given the opportunity to actually reflect on their learning.

What do the students do with their NCEA results ??

Yes I am outraged that the exam was of a very poor quality, full of errors and of a higher level, but for me the biggest complain is that there is no point at all to assess the students the way it is done now.

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