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Continued Lack of Testing Partnerships in East Asia as decades roll on

By       Message Kevin Anthony Stoda       (Page 3 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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For generations, language teachers in Taiwan, Asia and all-over this planet have been adversely affected, in terms of what they are permitted or able to instruct in the classroom due to the types of regional, state, national and university examinations (or tests) chosen for usage in their land. One of the most renowned advocates of improving the relationship between testing and teaching for many decades, especially in the area of language teaching, has been Arthur Hughes, author of TESTING FOR LANGUAGE TEACHERS. (This book by Hughes was for decades literally the Bible on good testing and teaching practices for language instructors world-wide. It also clearly outlines what kind of testing teachers, educators and parents should expect to have in their educational settings nationwide or worldwide.)


Any contests, such as a speech contest, is a form of a test for those participating, right?

Shouldn't language teachers in Taiwan, therefore, demand that tests--and contests--more appropriately support good learning habits, good teaching and good language acquisition and language practices? Of course teachers need to be involved in such advocacy all of the time.

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Doing such advocacy for testing reform (and contest reform) is not only beneficial to the student and to the classroom of any educator, but is beneficial to the entire society. Arthur Hughes has explained that the relationship between testing and teaching should be one of a partnership. If a test or contest distorts learning or deforms teaching and appropriate educational practices, there exists no good partnership between testing and teaching (education as a whole).


In fact, if testing is not beneficial to good teaching and learning practices, such testing will have a negative effect on how educational programs are being developed over the years.

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Likewise, if the emphasis or emphases of a particular high stakes test or contest is unclear or unknown by the students and teachers involved, it can be demoralizing for both. By the way, high-stakes testing would include (a) contests of all types, (b) testing for university, (c) testing that effects student placement in any school, grade or class, (d) testing which affects state, regional and national school funding and (e) testing for scholarships.

Advocates of appropriate testing practices and for testing with beneficial backwash on teaching and learning need to demand that any test or contest that does not create a beneficial partnership between teaching and testing needs have its usefulness called into question. Moreover, criteria for judging a competition as well as the criteria to be used on any high stakes exams needs to be about 100% clear to all involved students, parents and educators. If such level of clarity is not evident, that test should not be used as a high-stakes exam or test. It is not fair, demoralizing to participants and destructive to the society and to all the elements of trust required by parents, students, teachers and test-givers (or test-creators).

This concept of building a partnership between teachers and test creators was common knowledge when I did my first M. A. in education over 16 years ago [1]. It seems to have gotten lost in translation here in Asia.


[1] Stoda, Kevin, A Burning Issue: the Need to Introduce "Beneficial Backwash" and a Testing-Teacher Partnership in Japan in the 1990s, The Language Teacher, 18:10 October 1994.


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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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