President Obama condemns testing 'obsession' in schools: ‘What I remember about great teachers isn’t how they prepared for tests’

27th October 2015 at 17:26
 

In a message that will resonate strongly with teachers, Barack Obama has called for schools to limit testing in favor of introducing more creativity into the classroom.

President Obama announced over the weekend that he wanted to curb the amount of time students were forced to devote to preparing for and taking standardized tests.

The move stems from concerns among teachers and parents, who fear education has been reduced to little more than working towards exams.

In a video posted on Facebook on Saturday, Mr Obama said he had ordered the Department of Education to “work aggressively” toward capping the time spent on tests in school.

“When I think back on the great teachers in my life, what I remember isn’t the way they prepared me for a standardized test,” he says. “What I remember is the way they taught me to believe in myself, to be curious about the world, to take charge of my own learning so I could reach my own potential. To inspire me. To open up a window to parts of the world I had never thought of before.

“That’s what good teaching is. That’s what a great education is.”

Testing “takes the joy out of teaching and learning”, the president said. He added that any tests should follow three principles. 

They should be worth taking, they should enhance teaching and learning rather than taking up classroom time unnecessarily, and they should be one of many sources of information on a child’s ability.

“Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble,” Mr Obama said. “So we're going to work with states, school districts, teachers and parents to make sure that we're not obsessing about testing.”

The move was welcomed by the two main teaching unions, and was endorsed by Hillary Clinton, who is the frontrunner to become the Democratic candidate in next year’s presidential race. 

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