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Are schools doing a disservice to children in the name of formative tests?
The other day, when I met my neighbor, who is in his early forties and teaches at a local college, he appeared unusually crest fallen and worried. On being asked, he said that his six-year old son studying in class one and he had been summoned to the school (English medium school carrying the name of an English city) and reprimanded both of us for the bad performance of my son in a written 'formative test' by getting a C-grade. "My son has become fearful of the teachers and the school, since his self-esteem has been hurt. He dreads school now," he said with an air of concern.

I am going to visit the school alongwith the answer script and talk to the school teachers and the management about the rehabilitation of my child in the school, since he is reluctant to go to the school, and he asked for my advice by showing me his son's answer script. I told him that he should go to the school and raise questions on the test paper and teacher's understanding on the nature of formative evaluation.

Later, he came back beaming to me to tell what happened at the school. When he raised the questions, the teacher, the examination coordinator and the head teacher fumbled to give the answers. "When, I spoke firmly to them about the validity of test items and enhanced cognitive load on the child along with faulty scoring by the teacher, they got mellowed down and became defensive," he narrated.

The greatest shock was that when the teachers were told that the formative test was the new name for the unit test, whose frequency had increased. And, the marks of the formative tests were to be added to the annual or summation test for promoting the child.

When my neighbor told the head teacher to get the key to answers prepared by another teacher and reevaluate his son's four-page answer script, the child got a B-grade. It was revealed that the concerned teacher had scored the answer script casually, hence unethically it had hurt the child. The head teacher apologized and warned the teacher to be careful.

When my neighbor told that formative test is not meant to grade or rank children, but to find the learning gaps and facilitate learning through alternative methods of teaching and learning materials, even the head teacher felt a bit embarrassed on her evaluation-illiteracy and promised to improve the evaluation system in the school.

My neighbor's peep into the evaluation at grade one revealed that most private schools are doing wrongs to students is prescribing EVS; GK and cursive writing workbooks to increase the bag-load and cognitive load on students.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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