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From LookSmart's FindArticles

Looks like a useful read containing information on assessment in the education systems of 3 countries.

Singapore is singled out as an "internationally high-performing Asian country". "Singaporean students score among the highest in the world in mathematics and science".

The article provides a general definition of assessment.

From the abstract

'This article presents an overview of the English and Singaporean education systems, paying special attention to the high-stakes assessment systems operating at the elementary level in both countries. The effects of these assessments on teachers and students are described and implications for U.S. educators outlined.'

The view from over there

While criticism of teachers by the media and politicians is somewhat common in England, this is rarely the case in Singapore. Education is highly valued in Singapore, and teachers are seen to be of vital importance to the nation as a whole and to the individual student. Teaching is recognized as a career with unique opportunities and satisfying experiences. The Ministry of Education (2002b) challenges people to be part of a "dynamic teaching fraternity responsible for molding the future of the nation" (p. 1).

Problems associated with national curricula, which are accompanied by high stakes assessment include

  • a narrow operational definition of education
  • an unhealthy focus on test results rather than learning
  • detrimental stress on the student

Because these problems are often manifested at the classroom level, they remain relatively hidden from centralized policy makers. Consequently, educators have a role in the educational process that extends beyond implementing the curriculum. That is, they must participate in the formulation and critical review of education policy. (emphasis mine)

Three broad ideas specially aimed at enabling educators to participate in the policy process :

  1. Establish credibility through professional development
    • develop a wider range of educational skills, including teaching strategies and assessment techniques, which are necessary to fundamentally demonstrate a basic, technical expertise demanded of and by the teaching profession
    • develop a fuller understanding of the students – their situational context of the students, their needs, and aspirations; allows the educator to assume more of a facilitator role, enabling all learners to proceed at an optimal rate
    • critically examine the educational, social, cultural, economic, and political understandings that underpin his or her practice and the practice of others and the education system as a whole. Enhanced through conversations with other educators and education stakeholders.
  2. Engage the assessment system, identifying each one's strengths and weaknesses
  3. Communicate with other education stakeholders

Web site recommended by the article:

World Bank Education web site

The World Bank Group maintains one of the most extensive education web sites. Much of the information appearing on the site was prepared by Vincent Greaney, Thomas Kellaghan, George Bethell, and Hugh McManus–individuals who have written extensively about education and assessment systems. Topics covered include the purposes and functions of examinations, malpractice and counter measures, and standards and testing. Information on the assessment systems used in many countries is also described.


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