Short answer; it doesn’t.
Longer answer; it only serves the grown-ups and their quest for climbing Stats!
Next question: is this of any value to the learners?
Answer; not really.
The problem is it’s all got out of hand.
The strategies the government enforce on schools to test, test and test again are supposed to improve the quality of education, supposed to raise standards, supposed to improve pupils’ performance by identifying areas of need, supposed to improve the level of teaching.
But the reality is that none of this happens. Test results don’t really raise standards or improve the quality of education or teaching because they do not give a clear picture.
It is human nature, in a range of circumstances, that we are testing here. Not robots. And with human nature you rarely can test for a clear result.
Results show a minimal performance on one day, in one scenario; a performance that is the result of so many influences anyway, some personal, some circumstantial, some related to others. So what are you testing?
And even if they do identify needs, which is questionable with the result of a mere test, these are not subsequently catered for sufficiently because there isn’t the resources to do so.
What we are dealing with here are people. Education is about developing people. People change daily, in response to their situation, in response to each other, physiologically, emotionally, intellectually. We can test memory – in one moment in time – and that’s about it. But what use is that in the next moment?
What testing does it stress pupils and staff, waste their time and makes them afraid. Afraid of doing wrong, losing respect, feeling shame, afraid of friends and colleagues, whatever. Fear is not a good climate in which to be learning or teaching.
Testing and constantly regulating is not conducive to productive learning. And what’s so destructive about it is that it makes parents feel that if the learning can’t be measured it isn’t valuable, which is diabolically wrong.
As home educators it’s possible to educate successfully without ever doing any school style tests. And much of what you do will not be testable anyway but still be extremely valuable to your child’s educational development. Conversation is a good example of this. Conversations broaden minds, answers questions, expands knowledge, develops mental agility, extends language, stimulates and provokes motivation. But can you measure this? No! Does that make it less useful? No!
I’m not saying you shouldn’t review and reassess what you’re doing, how you’re children are learning, what they’re achieving, and what they might need to achieve, whether there are changes you need to make. Sometimes kids like to test themselves. Sometimes doing mock exams and practice tests is useful. Some like to set themselves challenges and targets to achieve.
But we need to be clear about what we’re doing it for and whether we need to do them at all.
Testing is the bane of education, it is not an enhancer of it. We’d serve our children better if we stopped testing and started trusting as I say in this blog here.
As a home educator, you’ll rarely need it. So if that’s worrying you, I should stop, and get on with the real business of providing many and varied stimulating experiences instead.