Friday, March 19, 2010

A Different Perspective On Standardized Testing

As Z has started his days with a healthy breakfast, a spoon of peanut butter, and a peppermint (reported to increase synapse in the brain) in preparation for the annual tradition of Terra Nova Tests--the Catholic School equivalent of MSAs--that began this week, we were all transported back to Beijing (in our minds, anyway) to the annual test that will take place there and across the entire nation in just a few short weeks....The one that decides everything for a student: The Gao Kao.

While certainly important, standardized tests in America (even the SAT) seem a lot less stressful when compared with their Chinese counterpart. During this nationwide test, signs are posted around all high schools deeming them "quiet zones." Inside, twelfth grade students who have studied their entire school lives (memorizing all the necessary information) are all too aware of the ramifications of their score. Unlike the SAT, this is a one-shot deal which decides whether or not a student will be able to attend college as well as which ones he or she is qualified to apply to. Period.

As stated in a June12, 2009 New York Times article entitled, "China's College Entry Test Is An Obsession," Sharon LaFraniere states, "One Chinese saying compares the exam to a stampede of 'thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of horses across a single log bridge.'" In this way she notes that "only about three in five make the cut."

Kind of makes the thought of filling in those little circles a bit easier to to stomach, no?

~Desi

PS: This picture is also credited to the June 12, 2009 Times article and depicts the throngs of anxious parents who congregate outside the test sites. Check out the link to this article for even more interesting angles to this compelling yearly event.

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