Our society has us thinking ones ability to pass standardized tests such as WASSCE, are the only accurate way of measuring ones intellect. Intelligence is displayed in many different ways, on many different spectrum. Standardized tests don’t value creativity. A student who writes a more creative answer will fail because the people who grade these tests follow a format, and if a creative response doesn’t follow the format given then the answer can be marked as a wrong. Standardized tests do not value diversity.
Differences among children who take standardized tests include cultural backgrounds, levels of proficiency in the English language (especially as a non-English speaking country…yes people! English is not our language neither is it a measure of intelligence), different learning and thinking styles. Preexisting mental disorders such as autism which in our part of the world are not detected early in most cases, yet the standardized test treats our children as if they were all identical.
These tests present questions to the present group taking the test as if they are the same as the group that took the test several years ago hence the “PASCO” books sold to us by schools and teachers. The tests also favour those who have socio-economic advantages. The tests are a series of slightly changed or improved questions from the past and follow a sequence, those with money can afford to hire special tutors to enhance their chances of passing the tests. Schools in a low socio-economic areas that gets less funding than rich suburban schools, do not get proper materials to aid in preparation for these tests. Yes I am aware that exceptionally intelligent children still pass these tests despite their socio-economic standing, but well funded schools have more at their disposal to push their students forward.
The tests create stress for various reasons, but mainly because from the beginning one is told that ones success and ones entire educational journey in life hinges on the ones ability to pass these tests. Again, this is a mental test. one must consider all facets of these test. Not all children function well under stress. Some do and some completely crumble under the pressure which has different effects depending on the child. This means there is not a level playing field. Research reveals that too much stress is psychologically and physically harmful to human beings, especially children. When stress reaches high levels, the brain shifts into a “fight or flight”response. It is almost impossible to engage in the higher-order thinking processes necessary to respond correctly in any situation once this happens.
Basically, there are many shortfalls in our testing system not just in Ghana but across the world that make it impossible for one to use standardized tests as a measure of intellect. Stop killing the confidence of your children by making them believe that tests put together by mediocre minds can determine the lengths to which they can go intellectually. It is false, and it is damaging to children.