Imagine my surprise then when her mother came to see me this morning to say how she came home upset on Friday saying that there was no point in doing her homework (which she usually does with enthusiasm as soon as she gets home) because she was never going to be any good at English. Obviously, her family were shocked to see her like this as was I when I heard about it.
Why was Sarah so upset? Because of a test score…
Image by Megan Skelly
And so, 2 weeks ago, I had to give a 25 question listening test based on questions from the KET exam, even though the students are getting ready for the Flyers test, which is one level lower! Naturally, they found it quite hard and results were mixed. Sarah got 72%, much lower than the 90%+ she gets in tests in the grammar lesson. I have spoken to her since, reminding her that the test is only a small part of the final grade I will give. Her project work is excellent as is her effort in class and her contributions to our student wiki site so her average will be much higher. That made her feel better but I still feel that I should have never had to have this talk with her in the first place. She should have never had to feel like this in the first place.
So, do these tests ‘add weight’ to my lessons? Do they make the students take them more seriously? I hardly think so. I try hard to show kids the value of my lessons through the work we do in class and the opportunities we create to use and develop our skills in English and that is what makes them value my lessons. Throw in a test and it becomes all about the grade and the stress that comes with it - a hindrance more than a help…
What’s your take on this situation? Are tests good for motivating students? Or is it the teacher’s duty to make sure the kids are motivated anyway?
*not her real name