School’s out

Part of the year end ritual in Macedonia is that they have what is called “External Testing”. Students will take two random tests and they need to be no more than one point off the grade they receive from their classroom teacher. Other wise, the teacher is penalized financially.

They take the test on computers. Our computers were stolen my first day of school but computers suddenly showed up (teachers brought their own personal ones) at school and we were hooked up to the internet. The test schedules were posted on the front doors of the school. Macedonia makes the questions available to anyone who wants them. Most of them are multiple choice but they don’t provide the answer options to those. So when you look at the question, you have no idea what they are looking for. A particular word or the name of the part of speech. Having the questions can help some but it will by no means guarantee a super result. You only get 25 questions when taking the test but there is a pool of 250 questions from which to select. And I should also note that the questions had quite a few grammatical errors in them. No quality control!

Test day arrives. So all the students scheduled for a particular exam are seated at computers and teachers and smarter students are roaming around the classroom. It has been announced who is receiving a “5” (an “A”) and needs to do really well on the test so once the time starts teachers and students help those taking the test to get the right answers so that test scores will match the classroom grade. No one worries about the 3/C students–only the 5/A and 4/B students. To say I was in a state of shock is putting it mildly. ¬†And I was expected to help. As an example of how crazy this system is, the 9th graders were scheduled to take the French test. However, they have not had a French class since September. So they sat there with their smart phones and used Google Translate to take the test. No one said a word. Even the school director (principal) showed up during this and made no comment. I believe the class grades the students received reflect their ability fairly well. However, these tests measure absolutely nothing since there is zero integrity in it.

And the reason I have password protected this is that it is not the most flattering picture of education in Macedonia and I really don’t want to write something that ¬†could be picked up by a stranger or the government. I love my school, my job and my family but this external testing thing is just ridiculous. Something should change. Wouldn’t I love to work with the Ministry of Education!

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A 60 something woman who has run off to faraway places with the Peace Corps.

3 thoughts on “School’s out”

  1. A bureaucracy simply trying to tell the EU that they have high standards and no thought to what is being done or consequences? Or ignorant people in the Education Ministry who have no idea of how to measure learning? Or simply a system to cut teacher compensation and drive good teachers out of the system? Or just total incompetence? Or all of the above.

    1. The one good thing about this testing is that students are discovering how to find answers and learning from them. Otherwise, a totally unique method of wasting time. IMHO

  2. Interesting to say the least. As a teacher of 43 years it rather disheartening. I wonder what my online students who going into teaching would think about this.

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