Friday, September 16, 2016

New science is driving Singapore—the country with the world’s best math students—to rethink high-stakes tests — Quartz

New science is driving Singapore—the country with the world’s best math students—to rethink high-stakes tests — Quartz:

New science is driving the country with the world’s best math students to rethink high-stakes tests

Students take an examination on an open-air playground at a high school in Yichuan

In 2015, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gave 15-year-old students in every country the same math and science test. Singapore’s teens places first. The country is so good at teaching math that its methods are now being adopted everywhere from Canada and the US to Israel and the UK.

But a video recently released by the country’s Ministry of Education hardly extols the virtues of their coveted first place rank. In fact, the three-minute video—based on a true story—about a young girl struggling with science, and her teacher’s efforts to help her, will probably make you cry.

The message? All that matters is trying your best.

The video, and changes such as how primary school kids are graded on a key exam, shows the country is trying to move beyond just mastery of high-stakes tests, to also focusing on student well-being.

“There’s a great recognition at the policy level that…we need to do better on these more important skill sets without compromising the foundations,” says Manu Kapur, a professor of psychological studies at the Education University of Hong Kong, and former head of curriculum, teaching, and learning at the National Institute of Education of Singapore.

Kapur says change is being driven, partly, by emerging evidence about the shortcomings of tests, namely that they are stressful while not always producing deep learning. Witness Shirley, age 15, in the video, whose pain at failing the test not once, but twice, is palpable. No doubt Shirley is thinking of her parents when her score goes from a 10% to a 40% and she looks despairing.

But her teacher marks her second paper with a “Well done!” in spite of the failing grade. When Shirley asks why, the teacher explains it is not just about the mark, but about trying your hardest, and making progress.

Kapur’s research, and others’, show tests measure kids ability to apply what they know, but not to generate new ideas. They measure performance in a vacuum, meaning kids are not allowed to draw on critical real-life resources like computers and the internet, and feedback from peers and other people. Also, the questions do not require persistence; they basically measure a kid’s ability to provide rapid-fire responses. In other words, these tests do not encourage the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century, like creativity, inventiveness, communication, and collaboration.
But adapting these findings into policy have been slow. Kapur says there is a belief in Singapore that small evolutions, not revolutions, are the New science is driving Singapore—the country with the world’s best math students—to rethink high-stakes tests — Quartz:


LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION

LATEST NEWS AND COMMENT FROM EDUCATION
EduBloggers

Latest News and Comment from Education