National Achievement Test - Should We Abolish Standardized Testing?
In the Philippines, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers has now called for abolition of the country's standardized exam, the National Achievement Test (NAT):
A coalition of private school educators, the Federation of Associations of Private Schools and Administrators (FAPSA), has joined the call to end NAT:
Some of the arguments laid out against the national exam are (1) standardized exams force schools to teach to the test (2) the assessment methodology is outdated, and (3) the exam is no longer secure and cheating is now occurring. But the strongest argument by ACT against the NAT can be summarized in one sentence, "The NAT results are not correctly used by education policy makers and the Philippine government." The National Achievement Test is now about two decades old yet scores in these exams have not changed. No change would have been good if the scores demonstrate that students in Philippine schools are gaining mastery of the skills and concepts tested. The big problem is that for over two decades, Philippine schools have been failing year after year, always ending with 10 to 20 points below the desired mark of 75 percent.
Cristina Manalo of ACT reiterates what is fundamentally wrong. The NAT as well as international exams have already shown that Philippine schools are failing. And throughout the past decades, education reforms have been introduced. Recently, the scores in these exams have been used to rationalize the new K+12 curriculum. The fact that performance in these exams has not changed means that education policy makers in the Philippines are clearly missing the point. Lack of resources and poor treatment of teachers are not addressed. These, according to ACT, are the factors that need to be considered to improve the quality of education in the country. Worse, NAT results are now being used to decide who among teachers will get a bonus. As Peter Greene of Curmudgucation says, "It does not do what it sets out to do."
Standardized exams are not necessary evil. After all, a recent study made by Hiss and Franks, "Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions", shows correlation between students' grades in college and their SAT scores:
|Above figure copied from Hiss and Franks, "Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions"|