"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Australian Psychologist: "It's a crazy thing we're doing to kids, really."

While most psychologists hide behind their association statements on the ethical use of testing that the testing maniacs simply ignore, here is one Australian shrink willing to speak out. From the Herald-Sun:
A CHILD psychologist has hit out at this week's national literacy and numeracy tests, calling them crazy and a waste of time.

Melbourne psychologist Andrew Fuller said the national tests did not adequately measure a child's skills and should not be used to compare them with other children.

"Parents shouldn't be getting hot under the collar, these are very poor and rough measures of basic skills," he said.

"They are very bad at predicting individual achievements . . . they're a complete waste of time."

The National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (Naplan) tests for all year 3, 5, 7 and 9 students will be held over three days from tomorrow.

More than one million students from 9000 schools across Australia will participate in the three-day tests.

Education Minister Julia Gillard yesterday defended the tests.

"You will be in the situation to know how your child is going, not only in their own school, but in a national test," Ms Gillard said.

"That is very important information for parents, and it's also important information for government to see how the education system is going and who might need extra assistance."

But Mr Fuller said that a recent doctoral thesis into national testing found the tests were invalid.

"It's a crazy thing that we're doing to kids, really," he said.

"These don't measure what they're supposed to measure. We're actually wasting everyone's time by taking valuable teaching time and using it for assessment that has no purpose really."

Mr Fuller was concerned that parents being told their child performed below a national standard would be too harsh, and that children would become stressed during the testing.

"Parents need to portray to these kids that they're not something to worry about, they're not something that's going to affect our view of you, they're not going to tell us how well or badly you're going to do in life, so don't get too fussed basically," he said.

Mr Fuller, who practises in Blackburn, is a member of the National Coalition Against Bullying and consults on children's television programs and the Federal Government's Resilience Education and Drug Information program.

Tomorrow will be the biggest testing day with two tests - Language Conventions which tests spelling, grammar and punctuation - and Writing being held.

Reading will be held on Wednesday and Numeracy on Thursday.

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