Teacher and young learners in class
Two young learners with a teacher in class ©

Matt Wright

The issue of continuous standardised assessment in the classroom for young learners is loaded with practical, ideological and social arguments.  For example, underlying the issue of standardisation is whether an assessment actually measures what it intends to measure.  So, if a school or organisation is claiming that a 5-minute group speaking activity or a 30-minute multiple choice reading activity can accurately measure young learners’ specific skills using a standardised test and scoring system, then that claim needs to be backed up with credible proof.  This proof has to be based on a clear awareness of the theories underlying standardised assessment, such as Weir’s sociocognitive framework (2005), for example, or M.T.Kane’s (2006) two-step approach to validating test scores, which states the test developer needs to demonstrate how test scores are interpreted and will be used and whether the given test can plausibly make such claims.  The notion that continuous standardised testing can be carried out by everyone simply following the same testing criteria without understanding why or what is being measured is potentially dangerous because of the long-term consequences of testing.  Unfortunately, the history of testing is littered with stories of standardised exams being blindly accepted without any real understanding of what the test is actually testing for its supposed purpose.  This is a particular concern when assessing children, because the impact of such faulty assessments can have dire consequences on their futures.    

This year’s New Directions has a variety of talks and presentations on the topic of integrating standardised assessment at the policy and practitioner levels, and we look forward to any clarification and frank discussions for practical and thoughtful implementation of this growing trend. 

Start with the main panel discussion on “Standards and Frameworks” at 13:30 on the first day of the conference and check the conference programme for the many breakout sessions on this also. 

Join our Young Learner Spotlight session at New Directions East Asia 2023 Day 1: 14:45 (Local time, face-to-face at the Dharma Negara Alaya Art & Creative Hub in Denpasar, Indonesia)