By: Eoghan Olkeriil Ngirudelsang
“To be brutally frank, they are not the best use of instructional time” expressed Minister of Education Dale Jenkins regarding quarterly tests.
“It is clear they were not used to help students learn more.”
Education Minister Dale Jenkins explained at this week’s press conference why he put an end to elementary school exams prepared by MOE’s school’s specialists.
“The rationale behind changing from quarterly assessment to regular teacher made assessment is based on, what is the use of the assessments? As I looked at the past and in interviewing many teachers as well as the specialists, it was found that the quarterly assessments were not being used to help students. It was being used as a summative evaluation tool. In other words that’s the end of the quarter, we’re done with it; this is how you did instead of using it as formative assessment, to go back and find out what we need to work on some more,” explained Minister Jenkins.
Minister Jenkins believed that the tests were not useful as measuring tools. The problem he said was that the tests were designed by people who were not in the classroom, to measure what the curriculum should have been but did not take into account what was happening in the classroom, added Jenkins of the reason why the quarterly assessments were discontinued.
There are mixed reactions within the education community. Some teachers agreed that this elimination of quarter exams gives a break to students while other educators disagree with the minister. ” I understand that the minister is putting an end to yet another student assessment, but don’t forget, MOE has targeted course learning objectives for each respective subject of each grade level. How else can we determine or measure that teachers are teaching those objectives accurately and that the students are learning what they are supposed to learn in that specific grade level?” said a 7th-grade social studies teacher.
One 5th grade Palauan teacher said, “While I am grateful that a teacher will have the discretion to create exams based only on what they taught; the teacher would have the choice to only test the learning objectives she has taught while the other learning objectives are left untaught and nobody would even bother to check.”
Further, into his answer, Minister Jenkins said, “we’re giving up at least 12 days of instructional time a year for those assessments not including the reviews that go ahead of that”. “What I think would be better was to use those 12 days of instruction for instruction rather than assessment”.
“Assessments help student learning, I thought we could use a better way of helping the students learn by using that time for teaching rather than assessments. We already “give a lot of tests”, he said.