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National tests – Yes, No or Maybe?

I have been toiling away as a blogger for 18 months now, I hope you feel I am starting to understand this new medium.  My decision to begin a blog was to continue a conversation. For 30+ years I have worked across classrooms, schools, districts, education department central offices, chains of stores, multinational conglomerates and everything in between.  I have worked with CEOs and Super-Intindents, classroom teachers, principals, eight-year-olds and school receptionists. I have come to learn a lot, I have been privileged to work with people that amaze and astound me.

I have developed life-long friendships that will live forever in my heart.  And I pray that a bit of my heart lives on in the lives of the people I have touched.

My personal gift from this journey has been one utmost central and important lesson.  

The world is full of people and all these people are unique and truly beautiful with their own set of beliefs, strengths and insecurities.  And these uniquely human pieces are just amazing when they come together and act as one.

This lesson sparked me 20-odd years ago to begin formulating my ideas that today, I call my Whole Person Learning Model. Where each person is a combination of their Intellectual Qualities, their Emotional Qualities and their Social Qualities – IQ, EQ, SQ.

As an American I lived through the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) period of a previous administration.  I personally saw the impact such policies had on teacher morale and principal self-esteem.  This week sees Australian schools complete their national tests.  Governments all around the world are currently, or at present planning, such national tests.  I guess these tests are now part of the landscape of our schools.

But these tests have made me pause for a moment and reflect.

If my 30+ years of work with people has had any impact, I need to think about the Whole Person in these testing regimes.  How do tests of literacy and numeracy measure the Whole Person? Aren’t schools more than literacy levels?  Isn’t the IQ, EQ, SQ balance of a child, classroom, school or entire system important?  Don’t we need to reflect on the fact that good schools might have low numeracy levels.  Yet these same schools may be developing human beings that will make an incredible impact on the world in years to come?

I have to believe that the decision makers who are rolling out these national tests must be asking these very same questions themselves.

These questions are not easily answered and I don’t have  the answers myself.  In fact, I am not even sure that I have any answers. What I do know is that my education over 60-odd years has instilled in me a need to ask the hard questions. Because of this, I am willing to live ‘in the question even though I can’t always answer it.  I am willing to live in the paradox of questions without the certainty of closure. I feel that the questions are important to our students and the future generations to come.

These questions and this thinking lead to this whitepaper – Beyond Standardised Tests – in which I try to think through this issue.  I hope you read it and it triggers some of your own questions.  I hope it prompts you to stop and give pause for a moment too.  And please, once you’ve read the piece let me know your thoughts whether in email or the comments section below.

Beyond Standardised Tests Whitepaper

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