Thank you for your support of quality education for rural children in China! As the school year comes to an end here at our headquarters school in rural China, we are busy preparing for final exams. Below is an update on how we're trying to test children's skills beyond the textbook. We would love to hear your feedback and pass it along to our hardworking teachers and staff in the field!
Evaluating and tracking student progress is very important to our program. However, for most subjects, county-wide exams only reflect students’ most basic ability to recall facts, but not their understanding. For example, a lot of the questions on the Science test are fill-in-the-blank questions taken straight from the textbook. Students can remember lines from the textbook without having any idea what they mean. In English, a paper-and-pencil test can show students’ reading and writing capabilities, but not their listening and speaking skills which are actually the emphasis of the curriculum at the primary level.
To fill this gap, RCEF Teaching Coaches designed internal tests for each subject area at Guan Ai School. In science and math, the tests asked students to apply their knowledge to solve real life problems. For English, every student had a one-on-one speaking and listening assessment. In language arts, we focused on evaluating spoken communication and essay writing. To test students’ spoken communication, we asked students to tell us what they would do if they were the principal of the school, and graded them based on aspects such as clear expression, giving reasons for their ideas, logical organization of thoughts and confidence. In social studies, we tested students on their ability to make judgments about social issues based on available information and their ability to support their arguments.
This is the first time RCEF has done our own comprehensive testing of students. The results will serve as a benchmark to measure students’ improvement over time. The next Guan Ai tests will take place right before the final exams. This time, we will also include assessment of skills in communication, collaboration and problem solving in addition to academic knowledge. To read some examples of test questions, visit the RCEF Blog at: http://blog.ruralchina.org.