schools and standardised testing

Allison Marles apm at alumni.uwaterloo.ca
Tue Dec 21 16:53:58 EST 2004


On Thu, Dec 16, 2004 at 02:07:00AM -0700, Robyn Starkey wrote:
> 
> >How do other countries represented here do it?
> 
> I can't speak for the whole of Canada, but in Calgary what happens in high 
> school appears to be that everyone smokes a lot of pot all the time, and 
> then 2-4 years later, they turn up in my Grade 12 equivalent English class 
> when they realise they actually might want to get a degree or something. In 
> a way it's nice that actual Grade 12 is so low stress. When I was at school 
> in Melbourne your Year 12 results were actually important enough to be 
> stressful.

I certainly wouldn't say this was at all representative of Canada's
school system.  But then, I also was a bit sheltered from the less
academically inclined because I took all the advanced/enriched courses
I could and the students you describe would probably have been slogging
along passively through the regular courses.

If you want to go to university, your grade 12 marks certainly count
as these are what are used for the admissions cut-offs and minimum
requirements.  Now, you can probably find some program at some
university that has low enough minimum averages that anyone who passed
the required prerequisite courses could get in, but you're certainly
severely limiting your choices of both school and program.

I'm glad we don't have the whole standardized testing thing in Canada.
I took the SATs so I could apply to some American universities ... and
what a joke.  I suspect they mostly test your ability to do well at
tests with a bit of reliance on a decent vocabulary and some other basic
skills, but nothing more than that.  I've seen several articles
mentioning studies that show that the SATs don't really correlate to
your likelihood of success at university.  The precision of the tests
cannot possibly be much better than grouping students in 3 categories
(ie. above-average, average, below-average), but your marks in high
school will do this anyways and will be a far better indication since
they don't rely on a single day's performance.  

Allison
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