Study: Districts Vary Widely in the Amount of Time They Spend on Testing
The main purpose of the article is to analyze the process of education, to examine different approaches to evaluation, and to check how effective some of them are. Its aim is also to compare the approaches of different educational institutions and those of particular teachers and to make analytical conclusions regarding the most effective approach.
The article starts with the statistics on how many hours an ordinary student spends on tests. It also gives short comments of teachers who are willing to prove these statistics. The article raises the question of whether it is reasonable to spend so much time on testing students instead of actually teaching them (Gewertz). After that, the author of the article explains to the reader the goals and main functions of a non-profit organization called TeachPlus, which aims at exploring the process of education in six districts. It organizes numerous interviews with teachers to establish the effects of a big amount of tests on education and to find out whether it should increase or decrease. TeachPlus aims at transforming the educational process into lean production with minimum ineffectiveness (Gewertz).
The article provides two graphics. The first one visualizes the relation between the age of a child (the level of education) and the number of hours he/she spends studying math and English. The second diagram visualizes the relation between the specific districts and the number of time students spend on evaluation tests (Gewertz). These graphics help the reader to get a general understanding of tendencies in most schools, both elementary and high.
The author analyses the results received by processing the statistics, graphs, researches, and interviews. There are numerous opinions regarding the amount of time that students should spend on testing. In fact, there is positive feedback. Many teachers think that it may be rather useful to evaluate the students properly to check the effectiveness of the teaching approach and to work on mistakes. They consider it to be reasonable to know how well students understand the material teachers present them. On the other hand, some teachers believe it is more useful to spend time answering the possible questions, creative thinking discussions, and problem-solution cases (Gewertz).
I fully agree with the idea that the tests should correspond to the information given by teachers. Moreover, students should be able to use the knowledge that can help them to answer the questions included in tests. I consider it to be rather important that students can use the received knowledge in their present or future life.
I also think that such organizations as TeachPlus are necessary as they help people to see the gaps in the education system, which is very essential. I think it is extremely important to pay attention not only to what one teaches but also to how one teaches it. The methods of teaching can either kill or promote students' interest in the subject. When I was a child, my teacher made me disinclined to study math. When I grew up, I discovered that math is a very interesting subject I had always lacked information about. Moreover, I discovered myself to be very talented in terms of logical thinking and math theory. I regret not being able to develop my skills when I was very small. However, that was not only my mistake. The approach used by my teacher was completely wrong. She evaluated our class most of the time without actually explaining things and making us interested in them. We were forced to study information without understanding why we actually needed it. That was my tragedy when I was young, and now I realize I must not repeat it with other children.
I actually consider that the Cambridge system is rather effective since there is only one test at the end of the year that shows one's progress throughout the year and is decisive for one final grade. This method of evaluation allows exploring something one is really interested in and to receive an evaluation of your continuous job.
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The article is somewhat contradictive. On the one hand, I was raised in a community where the education system implies continuous evaluation, and there is no way one can continue studying until they pass a test every week. On the other hand, I understand that tests and exams do not always show one's level of capacity and academic progress. It is more valuable to mix them with essays, creative projects, teamwork, and exchange of educational roles when students have to present something new to the teacher based on the given material. I really enjoyed completing team projects on interesting topics. It seemed much more compelling, practical, and effective than passing tests. Finally, I consider it to be much more useful to explain more and to evaluate less. There is no need to assess students if they have not been explained anything. It is very important to keep this balance and make the process of education as organized as possible. Only this way it can become effective and motivating enough to make the students fully realize their potential.
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