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Round 1. ktprktpr V Genya: School Exams

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posted on Feb, 20 2004 @ 12:27 AM
The topic for this debate is "School exams should be replaced with other methods of assessment."

ktprktpr will be arguing for this proposition and will open the debate.
Genya will argue against this proposition.

Each debator will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

No post will be longer than 800 words and in the case of the closing statement no longer than 500 words. In the event of a debator posting more than the stated word limit then the excess words will be deleted by me from the bottom. Credits or references at the bottom count as part of the post.

Editing is Strictly forbidden. This means any editing, for any reason. Any edited posts will be completely deleted.

Excluding both the opening and closing statements only one image or link may be included in any post. Opening and Closing statement must not carry either images or links.

As a guide responses should be made within 18 hours. However if the debate is moving forward then I have a relaxed attitude to this. However, if people are consistently late with their replies, they will forfeit the debate.

Judging will be done by an anonymous panel of 11 judges. After each debate is completed it will be locked and the judges will begin making their decision. Results will be posted by me as soon as a majority (6) is reached.

This debate is now open, good luck to both of you.

posted on Feb, 20 2004 @ 02:55 PM
---> "School exams should be replaced with other methods of assessment."

As the opener, I'm going to lay down some iron clad assumptions:

1. School - General education in the United States, i.e., High School
2. Exam - A written test taken during a fixed time period

The key word in this topic is the phrase "should be." "Should be" does not mean "always" but something more like "when appropriate". Simply stated, exams should be, when appropriate, replaced by better means of assessment.

Let's look at what's so great about exams:

a) They are cost effective; All you need is a paper and pencil to take an exam
b) They are space effective; You can cram 100 students in one room and have them all take the exam at the same time
c) They are simple to grade. You just check against an answer key or use a Scantron sheet.

Despite these advantages, there are several problems.

No matter how you look at it, exams really just test the test taking abilities of the student. Specifically, an exam is a literary (written or verbal) query of knowledge which does not take place in the real world, where that knowledge is used. It's a one-size-fits-all approach with no context (except for paper and a dry classroom).

Since the test is taken out of context, it's a valid question whether it properly assesses knowledge or ability. For instance, given the following two methods of demonstration, would you prefer to:

1. Demonstrate a lay up on a basketball court; or,

2. Submit a written explanation of how to make a lay up on a basketball court

Which "examination" would provide a better assessment? Which would be more accurate? I would go with the kid that could actually make a lay up on the court. My team always wins. In this case, demostration is a better method of assessment.

Speaking of winning, let's look at how the United States is losing. Remember, what's the primary assessment tool in the U.S? Exams. I can throw out facts all day, but I'll limit it to these few:

- We spend billions more on education, yet we still get questions like "Is Our Children Learning?", from the President of the United States, no less.*

- Scores on the SAT have dropped 80 points, even when the test was made easier. Someone from the 1960s, with the same answers, would score 18 and 30 points lower than someone giving the same answers in 1992*.

- Data suggests that the real way to reform America's schools isn't easy: you need structural reforms. As in changing the one-size-fits-all assessment procedure.*

- Kids are being held back in large numbers because they can't pass their state mandated high school exit exams.

Q: So what the hell is wrong here? What's wrong with this picture?

A: Johnny doesn't know because he can't read the question.

Exams aren't working for America, there are legitimate questions as to what exactly they test and there are better ways to assess knowledge and ability. These methods can be space effective and simple to grade. Note that I left out the word "cheap". Education is expensive but it's the best investment America can make. By dismissing exams from the classroom, when appropriate, America can move forward with its' education. I'll cover how to best do this in my later entries.


posted on Feb, 20 2004 @ 05:35 PM
I would like to thank Kano for inviting me to take part in this debate and to wish Mr ktprktpr all the very best in our ensuing discussion. I also hope our judges and viewing public will find this debate of interest.

I should, perhaps, explain that I taught in Secondary Schools in the UK from 1984 until 2000. Since 1993, I have worked as a part time tutor for the Open University. Consequently, I have had direct experience of taking examinations as a student, marking them as a teacher and tutor: on occasion, I have set them as well. As such, I might be able to offer first person evidence – as well as formal academic research –that examinations are irreplaceable.

One of kptrktpr’s assumptions that I will gladly challenge is his first: far from being ”iron clad”, education is *not* the sole prerogative of the USA, as good practice can be drawn from around the world. I respectfully suggest that “Education” here relates to a world view/ paradigm. Thank you.

As you will realise, ktprktpr, schools and universities the world over are required to fulfil a variety of functions, one of which is to serve as selection and certification agencies, making sure that individuals are suited to, and competent for, their social and occupational roles. They also contribute to personal development and are supposed to contribute to greater social equality.

Education in a given society is intimately related to the society’s status mobility system, methods of self-advancement in a hierarchy of social goods, particularly in the occupational ladder of modern industrial societies (LeVine, 1967). Schooling is defined by Ogbu (1982) as “culturally organised formulae for preparing children to participate in the status mobility system of their society, including teaching and learning of rules of behaviour for achievement, instrumental competencies and actual behaviours required to advance in the status mobility system”. Schools certify young adults for eligibility to compete for different levels of jobs and salaries. This certification (credentials awarded as certificates, degrees or diplomas) serves as a culturally institutionalised device for job placement and remuneration.

Practically everywhere in the world there has been increased demand for access to higher education. Tertiary education has been growing continuously from 28.2 million students in 1970 to 47.5 million in 1980, to 85 million in 1993. Moreover, it is in the developing countries that the increase has been higher. Between 1970 and 1988, the number of tertiary students has multiplied eight-fold in Sub-Saharan Africa, six-fold in Eastern Asia, the Pacific and the Arab States, by four-and-a-half in Latin America and the Caribbean and has doubled in Southern Asia. Today, almost half of the students enrolled in higher education are in developing countries (Power, 1994)

Most countries in the world today do most of their selection for higher education on the basis of academic merit. The days of selection based on race, social class status or privileged position of parents are past, if not in practice, at least in theory in most countries where the goal is egalitarianism.

Most colleges and universities today seek most - if not all - of the measures for selection on merit, either in the quality of grades at school graduation or in entrance tests of academic aptitude or ability, or both. School-leaving examinations, whether it be the advanced and ordinary level General Certificate of Secondary examination in England and Wales, the French Baccalaureate, the West German Abitur, the Intermediate Examination in Pakistan, the Attestat in Russia, the Senior Certificate in South Africa or the Scholastic Aptitude Test scores and High School Grade Point Average in the USA, provide the single most important measure of academic ability for selection for higher education. In countries with a highly decentralised secondary education system without uniform, externally controlled school-leaving examinations, college and university entrance tests constitute one of the main bases on which academic selection is made. Typical examples are the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Test (ACT) which are extensively used in the USA.. In short, examinations are used to determine suitability and aptitude for entry into higher education, and hence, a way to increase opportunity for the individual concerned.

I have shown that examinations are still recognised, respected and valued as the means whereby an individual student’s ability and knowledge can be assessed against their peers? Further, I will later show how there has been an increase in the need for them.

I have pleasure in giving the floor to my esteemed friend and colleague ktprktpr!


LEVINE, R.A. (1967) Dreams and Deeds (University of Chicago Press).
OGBU, J.U. (1982) Equalisation of educational opportunity and racial/ethnic inequality, in: P.G. ALTBACH (Ed.) et al.
Comparative Education (New York, Macmillan).
POWER, C. (1994) International trends in tertiary education, keynote address, Tertiary Education Conference, South Africa, March.

800 words

posted on Feb, 20 2004 @ 07:52 PM
Well, fortunately, since I'm arguing for the positive form of the topic, I only have to show that for one case, school exams should be replaced with other methods of assessment. I pick the United States because I know it best. And so, with a false reluctance, I draw the primary focus and judges' eye back to the good ol' United States. Home of the free, brave and proud.

First, Genya, let me ask of you a question, or two:

In your six long years of being a teacher, did you ever have a student that clearly knew the material at hand, but just couldn't score well on the test? And, may I ask, did you quit being a teacher because of any fault of the British educational system? Be honest here. The judges and God are watching.

I'll state my case simply, as there was no defense in Genya's opening:

The U.S. educational system is failing. State mandated tests are holding students back and parents are clamoring for a change. Americans are getting stupider by the second, apparently, if SAT or ACT scores are any indication. Because of all this, a high school diploma doesn't mean very much any more.

Since there was no dis-contention on Genya's part, a exam stands as a "A written test taken during a fixed time period."

How is all this failure determined, analyzed and assessed? By "exams", "tests", "finals", whatever you want to call them. I outlined the advantages of exams in my opening, but are there any failings? Yes.

Exams are absolutely the most artificial way to test someone's knowledge. Think about it. It's you, a desk, a piece of paper and the clock. There's no context, like a science lab, or an office. The questions, issued from someone else's agenda and perspective, aren't open to interpretation and you have somehow guess what they mean. Hell, look at the topic! Genya thinks the whole world should be included, but I don't (reasonably so, given my charge). Whose wrong? Whose to say?

As a high scoring SAT taker myself, I've seen a number verbal questions which were ambiguous. There have been accusations of culturally biased questions on the SAT, even, which have been changed.

Exams are often faulty and aren't the best way to assess knowledge. There are better ways. Physical models are great tools to demonstrate knowledge. For example, in testing for physics, one could demonstrate how atoms combine and break up using a simple plastic model. The teacher could pose a series of question, couched in a real life situation, to which the student could respond. Several students could be tested in one room, facing away from another, walled off, to speed up testing. This isn't a traditional exam, but a superior means of displaying knowledge. Putting the entire assessment within a hypothetical real life situation makes it much more exciting. For grading, the teacher would simply mark how many questions the student was able to solve. This assessment can even be carried out via long distance assessment (video camera to a central location).

Physical models and hypothetical real life situations can be used as an exam substitute, for many assessments. For literary works a different approach would have to taken:

Simply have a conversation with the student about the book, while sneaking in several questions. Carry this assessment out in an relaxed atmosphere and try to ferret out the students true thoughts on the book. This is surely is a more humanistic approach. Again, you can use multiple teachers at once. I never said this was going to be cheap, but education is America's finest investment.

So the point is, most exams can be replaced by a near real world demonstration. Since the key word was "should be", there will be some exams that are best carried out on paper and pencil, like math questions. But even those should be carried out on the chalk board, televised to some central testing location, if desired.

As we see, by far, exams are not the best and only way to assess ability. They are fraught with interpretational problems and biases. Since exams are supposed to predict how well a student knows the knowledge, we should just do away with the predicting and have the kids use that knowledge in some (usu. hypothetical) real life context, demonstrably to another human being. Isn't that how you would like to be assessed? School exams should be, can be, replaced with other methods of assessment.

posted on Feb, 21 2004 @ 02:52 PM
Well said ktprktpr!

I am sure the judges, and our esteemed readers, are as impressed with your knowledge and grasp of the subject as I myself am.

For example, you state that out of a world population of around 6 400 000 000, *only* the example of the USA, with a population of around 293 000 000 (approximately 4.6% of the whole) is sufficient for your analysis? No matter. Thanks to your insight, I can now see that what *doesn’t* affect the “Home of the free, brave and proud” can be discounted.

You ask me two questions, the first being “Did you ever have a student that clearly knew the material at hand, but just couldn't score well on the test?”

Sadly, ktprktpr, I did have such a student. I asked him “If I’ve worked since 1984 in teaching and finished that stage of my career in 2000, how many years have elapsed?” Whilst I feel certain he knew the answer was 16 years, in the test he replied ”…your six long years…”. I felt saddened but I ask you ktprktpr, what was I to do? I had no option but to fail him, unfortunately…

You also enquire as to my reasons for leaving teaching after 16 years: unfortunately, after this period of time in the classroom, I became “burnt out”, which I hope satisfies your curiosity? There is a “witticism” in teaching that “We (teachers) get older, but the students stay exactly the same age”. The energy *I* had at age 33, when I first entered the profession, sadly declined when I neared 50. Such is Life, I suppose?

I feel there is much we can agree on ktprktpr. Of course, I don’t *think* I said - nor concurred – in my opening address that:

“a exam stands as a "A written test taken during a fixed time period." ”. I must mention that the correct form is “an exam”, incidentally, just for future reference. As a teacher, I was very pedantic! !!

However, in deference to you, let us assume examinations, where applicable, are written. Where a better criterion exists, for example when assessing a student’s ability to play music, let us assume that they will play it on the instrument they have been studying. Agreed ktprktpr?

I enjoyed - very much - reading about your idealistic, indeed, “humanistic” teaching and assessment models.

Imagine: happy, enthusiastic young people, aged 11-18 (as my students were), sitting “in an relaxed atmosphere” and me “trying to ferret out the students true thoughts on the book.” (The correct form is “… a relaxed atmosphere…” not “…. an relaxed… ”. (It is all to do with vowels and consonants, but no matter).

AH!! Wouldn’t *that* be wonderful – I wonder *why* such a system isn’t in place after all these years of educational praxis? They don’t have this system at Eton and, from what I’ve read, neither does it exist in the most expensive schools in the United States of America? I can see now that the rest of the class gets on quietly with their respective tasks, whilst this interview is conducted.

This fanciful system *might* work if “one-to-one” tuition was available. However, to the best of my knowledge and experience, this only occurs with some forms of SEN (Special Educational Needs) provision occasionally – or if the young person is educated at home, by a parent. I gladly accept that *ideally* we would have this system in place but, despite young people and “education is America's finest investment” – and that of the rest of the World’s too – I think you’d find that the costs would be unacceptably high?

Let’s say each class has one teacher to 25 students? Could *any* country afford 25 times as many teachers? Could we – realistically – even *double* the number of teachers available, due to recruitment difficulties?

However, what of the assessment issues Ktprktpr? How would you standardise the marks awarded? By what criteria? By the teachers say-so? Would plastic models *truly* represent how atoms “work”? What if the teacher/ examination/ assessment person was bribed – or intimidated - to falsify the results of a particular student? Where would we be able to place one student in respect to another – how could we show “differentiation”? Eureka!! I have it!!

Let’s set an examination! That way, we can “examine” students in peer groups in a controlled environment, and arrange for the independent marking of the scripts to a known standard!! Then the results achieved would hold up to scrutiny!! By Jove, that’d work ktprktpr!!

Seriously, pedagogical and didactic models of education are recognised the (sorry) world over. Let me give one reference to curriculum theory , to show what actually happens in the “real” world. Why, after all, reinvent the wheel?

Now, over to you ktprktpr, for your ripostes!!

800 words

posted on Feb, 22 2004 @ 02:35 PM
Tell me, where you see the word "world" in the topic: "School exams should be replaced with other methods of assessment." We do see, however, the dismal United States' educational system. For this case, school exams should be replaced with something else. If I can convince the judges of this, then my success is Genya's failure.

Genya agrees with me, "I gladly accept that *ideally* we would have this system in place...", but cites prohibitive expenses. Genya also charges that such a system would be entirely subjective and open to both intimidation and bribery. But look closer. PhD. thesis evaluations, standard driving tests, final class projects and millions of non-exam assessments, all fail to produce incompetent thugs who muscled their way through. In each of these cases there is group review. When implemented correctly, bribery and intimidation are not an issue.

For this reason demonstrative methods of assessment are just as accepted among academia, if not more than exams. After all, aren't professors known for their accomplishments, not test scores?

It's no secret that the US needs to do something different. Allyson Tucker, in the above cited paper, says "The data overwhelmingly suggest, however, that America's education crisis can be solved only by adopting structural reforms that ensure greater school choices for parents and local control and school autonomy for teachers and principals." The famous, 1983 Nation At Risk* report called for strengthening requirements and other measures but did little to break new ground. Did it work? Look where America is now. It's not enough. Joe Graba charges* that "we cannot get the schools we need by changing the schools we have."

What I am proposing is no less than a radical restructuring of "knowledge assessment" founded upon fundamental principals that work today. By clarifying demonstrative assessment, and considering the U.S. high school system, I demonstrate that school exams really should be replaced with something else.

First off, demonstrating something is much more fun and engaging than making marks on a piece of paper. A key problem with US education is student (and parent) apathy. This works towards solving that, by making the testing process interesting.

Staggered testing dates, like in colleges, can be used to solve the staffing problem. Given that you only have X number of students on a given day, Y number of teachers could handle them. This brings us into the nature of how testing and testing content is handled.

Video display and recording is a powerful tool to both standardize content and evaluate it with limited staff. The state, or county, if you want more variety, would produce standard assessment videos, involving hypothetical situations. Students are expected to answer with provided standard models and verbal explanation. We have standardized TI-92s, why not simple models? It's not hard. Many U.S. schools already have video surveillance and television sets. So the hardware costs aren't as great as once thought (esp. with technology becoming cheaper and school discounts).

Grading can be done on a sliding scale, where those that get high grades are reviewed by several other teachers, to ensure grading integrity. This brings in the respected element of group review, as mentioned above. Group review ensures integrity and minimizes any intimidation/bribery, as the teachers are randomly selected.

The teachers would have an answer video, where the correct responses are given, which is also approved by the state or county. This minimizes ambiguity and allows teachers from different subjects to grade for the same subject. Since every teacher can be utilized, costs are drastically reduced (teachers can be reused for different tasks). Finally, since everything is recorded, if there's any question, it can be reviewed at a later date. Digitizing the results would enable an entire student body to fit on one CD. Hell, if you wanted to further reduce costs, you could send the results to an outside institution for evaluation. That's how the SAT is graded.

Now, at this point, this is sounding like a roundabout way of giving exams. But realize that it's an alternative method of assessment that's exciting and based on working real world components. Look at the parts: Group review is done every day by colleges, tele-conferencing and distance assessments are done by internet universities and state governments. Finally, staggering test times is done world wide. The pieces all work and together they can make a better whole.

Allyson Tucker, the 1983 Nation at Risk approach and its' results, and Mr. Graba all admonish that the US needs to do something new, and this is it. An exciting, participatory, demonstrative, and humanistic way of evaluating. Make no mistake, in America, school exams should be replaced with other methods of assessment.

* Nation at Risk -
* Joe Graba -

posted on Feb, 23 2004 @ 09:16 AM
Salutations to our esteemed adjudicators, audience - and my dear friend ktprktpr - alike!

Ktprktpr, you ask “where you see the word "world" in the topic”? I would retort – “Where do *you* see the exclusivity of the USA” specified?

Education affects us all, ktprktpr, not simply those whose undoubted good fortune is to live in the “good ol' United States. Home of the free, brave and proud”. The majority of *us* also live in countries that we are equally proud of, feel free in and have demonstrated “bravery” for occasionally.

The reason I’ve persisted with a “world view” is quite simple:

1) The ATS board is international – for example, our esteemed facilitator Kano lives in Australia. I am a British citizen. To consciously make the decision, as *you* do ktprktpr, to exclude other countries is, frankly, imperialistic. Pax Americana anyone?
2) By choosing to ignore what happens in the wider world – the other 95% of us – the opportunities to share good practice are lost.

I suspect your reason for doing this is because you are not confident in your material for this debate and wish to only discuss a schooling system you’ve experienced first hand (presumably as a student, rather than a teacher?)? No matter, ktprktpr, I *am* confident enough to discuss this on *your* terms. I’ve always tried to accommodate my student’s limited prior knowledge, but endeavour to “raise their performance” eventually….

Ktprktpr, you argue that “aren't professors known for their accomplishments, not test scores?” I would agree – BUT – *how* did “Professors” get to become professors?

They learnt the tools and techniques they would need to meet the rigours and challenges of facing peer review by undertaking an “apprenticeship” of sorts. They went to school, they went to college, they went to university, and they successfully completed their first degree – all via the medium of “examinations”. They took a Masters degree – they went on to complete a PhD. Do you see what I’m saying here?

They *needed* examinations – as a way of having “checks and balances” - before they received their “professorships”!

Whilst you seem to decry the quality of the education system in the USA, ktprktpr, there is, in fact, a demonstrable desire for “international” examinations, which are taken to be those that originate in, and are recognised for, access to university or the labour market in countries outside that in which they are taken, especially the USA!

In 1994/95, the latest year for which reasonably complete data are available, almost 719,000 foreign students were in higher education in just four Anglophone countries, the USA, UK, Australia and Canada, representing over 45% of the global total (UNESCO, 1998).

In the USA, by far the largest proportion (57.8%) came from East, South Central and South East Asia, particularly East Asia, with Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China accounting for 34% of the national total. A further 19.3% come from Europe and Canada, with Latin America and the Caribbean accounting for just 10.4% and Africa no more than 4.6% (NCES, 1996).

So, despite your protestations, ktprktpr, the education system in the USA is still “prized” - if not by yourself personally - then at least by those who can discern the reality of the situation – and value those examinations!

A link to “Nation at Risk” - gave these key recommendations:
• Graduation requirements should be strengthened so that all students establish a foundation in five new basics: English, mathematics, science, social studies, and computer science.
• Schools and colleges should adopt higher and measurable standards for academic performance.
• The amount of time students spend engaged in learning should be significantly increased.
• The teaching profession should be strengthened through higher standards for preparation and professional growth.

So, far from dismissing examinations, they seem to be advocating even more rigorous standards!!

Mr Gaba’s article, which despite his credentials as one-time “Dean of the graduate school of education at Hamline University”, was styled only as “Remarks”. One was to the“Minneapolis Rotary” on October 19, the other to a group of key ‘education legislators’ at Alexandria MN on December 14. After dinner speaking really…

Anyways, I eagerly searched for "Joe’s" criticism of “Examinations” but couldn’t find any such arguments? He certainly finds that new technologies could enhance learning, but doesn’t suggest that examinations need to be replaced per se.

Ktprktpr, could you specify *where* in the text - or others you might access - this is mentioned please?

Similarly, if you could access Ms Tucker’s article and quote verbatim the need to “abolish” examinations then I would be very much obliged Sir. Thank you!

I give the stage back to you, my honourable friend ktprktpr!!


NCES (National Centre for Education Statistics) (1996) The Digest of Educational Statistics 1996,
, .

UNESCO (1998) Statistical Yearbook 1998 (Paris, UNESCO).

800 Words

posted on Feb, 24 2004 @ 05:55 PM
Genya, I am glad to see that you're not letting your education get in the way of your ignorance. Since this is my next to last post I'm going to keep this simple and tell it like it is. Judges, do pay attention:

The topic asks me to argue that exams should be replaced with something else. It doesn't say where or how. All I'm supposed to do is show that exams should be replaced. Note the period. If I can do that for America, then I've done my job.

I picked the US not because of the secret Pax American fetish I harbor, but because the US educational system has raised education to a new low. Efforts to make the system more rigorous, per A Nation At Risk, have all failed. These efforts failed because we're trying to do more of the same. That's why I cited Mr. Graba, because he's right: "We cannot get the schools we need by changing the schools we have." It's not working.

The state mandated pass/fail exams, now being imposed, have caused a lot of anguish and literal failure. You can argue that the implementation was failed and the focus weak, but, state mandated exams are really just another attempt to do more of the same.

This is also why I brought Mrs. Tucker into the picture. Her report, of the part I can read, says that we need to adopt structural reform that allows more variety. Note the keyword "structural". All my citations point to the need to do something really different (a big change). That's why I brought them up, not because I found people that endorse my view. But because they support it implicitly. And that big change is to make assessment a hell of a lot more exciting, but in a valid and rigorous way, as illustrated in my previous post.

And, sure, a lot of foreign kids want to get into U.S. colleges. But that doesn't have anything to do with the U.S. high school system, the other half of the U.S. education system. Colleges already require and use demonstrative methods, like PhD. thesis defense, final group projects, internships, etc. All of U.S. education (read: high school) should incorporate these methods. If it works for colleges and so many foreign students want to come here, why not do it for US high schools too?

What I find interesting is your lack of focus on the US high school educational system. I don't know how it is in England, but primary education is a very important chunk within a nation's educational system.

Professors get into college by being assessed, by exams no less. But they can just as well gain entrance by being assessed in different ways. In fact, they do, employment history and experience are usually more important than what kind of grades the professor received their under grad studies. The point here is that there are certainly other valid ways to assess people. All I'm asking is to use these methods in American high schools.

And now I conclude with a cliff notes version of my thesis, for the needy:

1. I'm here to show an instance where school exams should be replaced with something else.

2. Exams are not the end all of assessment. They're fraught with interpretational problems and aren't very exciting. Are there other ways to demonstrate knowledge?

3. Yes. I propose an alternative, exciting and workable means of assessment. Note that this alternative hasn't been directly attacked by the Genya. (Until s/he reads this, that is...)

4. U.S. high schools, a very big chunk of the U.S. educational system, could use something like this. Why?

5. Because they're failing. Making more exams, imposing more standards, isn't helping, obviously. Look at me! I can't even subtract 1984 from 2000. Some thing new needs so be done

6. And, because demonstrating stuff is a lot more exciting, provides context, where marking a piece of paper doesn't.

7. It's just as easy to standardize and record everything. So, we get the best of everything. Even Genya said "I gladly accept that *ideally* we would have this system in place...", to which after I illustrated how it could be cost effective and workable.

So, clearly judges, we can see how and why exams should be replaced.

posted on Feb, 25 2004 @ 10:22 AM
Well struck ktprktpr!! As always, an insightful response!!

For the record, please note that I am a *he*, although this is irrelevant to this debate.

The original brief we had was “"School exams should be replaced with other methods of assessment."

Throughout this debate I don’t believe you’ve actually argued for this: rather, you’ve looked at how the delivery of the curriculum could be achieved more effectively, efficiently - and in an interesting and engaging way - to students. That has considerable merit and appeal ktprktpr – one, indeed, that already takes place (in the UK at least) - but it is not the topic we’ve been asked to debate.

You had to show *why* examinations should be replaced: I, to show that there was no such need.

Your authority – Joe Gaba – talks in his 19th October 2001 speech about the reluctance towards “institutional change”, and actually states that:

“The schools we have serve many students well; and these should continue.”

In his 14th December 2001 talk, he reminisces about his childhood and contrasts his childhood spent without electricity, with the opportunities made possible today by new technologies, such as IT.

In neither case does he find against examinations - nor suggests any replacements for them. He is extolling his audience to embrace change (of the methodology of delivery of the curriculum for some students who *aren’t* “served well”), rather than arguing against the need to replace examinations.

When I challenged you to provide a verbatim reference from *any* of your sources that said that examinations needed replacing, you were unable to locate any.

And that is a shame ktprktpr….

When our debate started, I imagined you’d suggest two strands of evidence, as to both *why* examinations needed to be replaced, and *how* they might be “offset” in importance. Let me assist you, my dear friend, as you were unable to do this.

1 Examination stress:

I thought you would argue that the “anxiety and stress” caused by examinations on students caused too much “suffering” for them and could be alleviated if examinations were removed.

I, of course, would have countered by saying that “stress” is important in everyday Life and that there are techniques and support mechanisms in place to decrease this.

2 Continuous assessment:

This entails assembling portfolios of evidence; project work; work that is completed by students over a period of time, etc. Subsequently, it is marked by teaching staff and is then subjected to external moderation to ensure standardisation. This system forms the basis of the GCSE’s in the UK. This removes – or lessens – any potential bias the class teacher might have for his/ her students.

So, for example, someone who takes a GCSE in Technology would produce an artefact of their own design, complete and present a portfolio of their design work, costings, etc.

Of course, *during* the two years they studied “Technology”, they would use interactive/ “hands on” materials to explore these subject areas eg build an IC-based electronic alarm circuit; make a cam/ lever mechanism; use CAD/ CAM, etc, as it is very well understood that experiential learning is preferable to didactic “chalk and talk” methods, as Joe Gaba – and you ktprktpr - understand.

However, as laudable as this approach is ktprktpr, there is *still* the requirement for students to take a final “examination” in their subject, so rather than “replacing” examinations per se, continuous assessment augments them. The written examination at the end of their studies would look at the wider aspects of their two-year course eg electronics, mechanics, pneumatics, etc.

In the hundreds of years that “formal” schools have existed, in both the “Old” and the “New” worlds, a necessary part of the education process has been to deliver the subject being taught and to then assess how much of that knowledge has been assimilated.

So, we choose which subjects we wish to teach students – and put a weighting on those subjects, as regards the amount of time each student will study them for. This is the curriculum.

Then we assess – perhaps through demonstrating the “mastery” of a subject (like playing a musical instrument) – or through a formal “sat” examination.

In *all* that time – those hundreds of years – we haven’t devised a better system for our school-age students, ktprktpr, despite the efforts of 100 000’s of hours of talented teachers, educational technologists, academic practitioners, educational psychologists - et al - whose time is/ was spent researching alternative methodologies.

*Why* is that ktprktpr? Because they’ve lacked *your* insight? If so, I genuinely suggest you become a teacher, rise through the academic ranks as your friend Mr Gaba did – and implement those teaching strategies you propose ktprktpr!! Our young people deserve no less!

I look forward to hearing ktprktpr’s summing up, as we near the end of this fascinating debate!!

800 Words

posted on Feb, 26 2004 @ 12:47 AM
Throughout this debate I have shown how, realistically and possibly, a new system of assessment could be used. Specifically, I have called for the system to be installed in American high schools. There is great merit in demonstrative assessment, as I have shown. The American high school system really needs something new. You put two and two together (talking to the judge's here, not my esteemed colleague Genya). That's the "should be" in the topic title.

Yes, I have cited papers from several people who agree that the school system needs change. Furthermore, the Nation At Risk paper illuminates the fallacy of doing more of the same. My citations can be picked till they're bone white, but the premise they hold remains the same: What we're doing now isn't working: I was hoping this was obvious to Genya and that we could take this debate to a higher level. But English schooling hasn't taught Genya to read between the lines.

And it's specious reasoning to assume what has been always done is the best way to do it. I found that to be a heavy cornerstone in Genya's argument. Whether it sunk his ship or not, the judges will tell. But it's clearly un-true in the face of innovation and evolution.

Genya hasn't uncovered a reason as to why US high schools should continue with more and more standardization. It's certainly not going anywhere. It's said that I have to show that exams should be replaced - and I certainly have - but I don't feel any US high-school-specific return fire Genya's trench.

I've covered my thesis and defense. The cliff notes summary above should provide more illumination. Now I'll let the man behind the curtain come out and say a few words:

This was a great debate. I went for broke by focusing on something weird and not really "giving in." I feel that there was a good element of passion being expressed; whether I got it from the asterisks floating around Genya's replies or, lol, just going back and forth, I don't know. But it's it's been fun. May the best argument win!

posted on Feb, 26 2004 @ 03:32 AM
It is with great sadness that I now close this fascinating debate with my learned colleague ktprktpr. I have very much enjoyed our debate and am deeply proud that ktprktpr – who I respect very highly – says that it “was a great debate”. Thank you – my thoughts entirely my friend!!

I know our judges will have a very difficult task ahead and wish them all the very best in making their decision, which I will stand by and respect, whatever the outcome. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our assembled audience for their time and trouble in reading what I trust has given “food for thought” over the past few days.

Thank you all very much!


I would like to highlight my main points here for your attention:

I showed that “education” – and hence examinations - should be regarded as being important globally. My colleague ktprktpr adopted a stance that was “exclusive”, however, and only wanted to focus on the USA.

I stated that I had 16 years experience as a teacher of students aged 11-18, as well as 11 years teaching on University courses with students ranging in age from 20 – 65 (in one instance). I intended that this might offer an insight of what actually happens within teaching and learning environments. Mr ktprktpr was not able to provide this knowledge but relied on hypothetical, “humanistic” models, essentially of his own devising.

By using Harvard-referenced texts, I argued that examinations were still necessary, that there was an increased and growing need for them. The “Nation at Risk” study, that ktprktpr quoted himself, stated that “Schools and colleges should adopt higher and measurable standards for academic performance”. Joe Gaba’s assertions were based on his point of view and not subject to review by peers. Sadly, when challenged, Mr ktprktpr could not provide evidence of statements, even from his chosen authorities, that examinations were the cause of the perceived problems within the USA.

Indeed, I referenced sources that showed that, in fact, the USA attracted many overseas students, especially from Asia, who valued examination success in the USA very highly.

Playing Devils advocate, I showed that ktprktpr failed to mention two arguments he might have focussed on, to show that examinations should be replaced, namely stress and increased use of continuous assessment. I countered these undisclosed arguments however.

I then concluded that throughout the history of Education, many people had strived to put into practice systems that would effectively deliver a curriculum and then to assess how effectively this had been achieved by assessment. Countless hours of research has been devoted to this, as “Education” is too important to “play around with” – our future lies in the hands of the young after all. But, the truth is that we *haven’t* devised a system that matches the present one: namely, setting examinations.

So, our respective fate is in the hands of our illustrious judges. Good luck to you ktprktpr – it has been a real pleasure!!

499 words

posted on Feb, 26 2004 @ 12:42 PM
Excellent work both of you, I'll untie the judges and set them to work. Results in a day or so.

posted on Feb, 29 2004 @ 02:07 AM
The result is in, and Genya has defeated ktprktpr by a margin of 6-3 in a very closely fought and enjoyable debate. You are both to be commended for the high standard of this debate.

Here are some of the judges comments.

This debate was well spoken and argued from both debaters. May this debate be a model of future discussions, and I personally wish to thank both debaters for their efforts. I will admit, this was a very close call, the judgement placed as to the winner of this debate was a diffucult one to make.

Awesome debate. wow. Genya simply out-boxed ktpr this time. Although both are very skilled and capable debaters, in my opinion this one belonged to Genya.

Damn,that was a tough one. ktprktpr, gets my vote. He did a very good job of explaining why exams are not always the most effective mean of testing someone. Both debators are well spoken,and I do hope they continue to debate in the future. Awesome debate guys.

Tough debate, due in major part to the interpretive aspect of the reading of the topic. Due to that ambiguity, this debate was won with both the Pro & Con having made their point! While not a first, it was especially pronounced here.
Having somewhat of a stalemate on the best practice of knowledge assessment, one baseline question emerged as the deciding factor of this debate: What method offers the most uniform assessment with the least variance of interpretation on what is right or wrong? The exam methodology in place today was the answer, thus giving the debate to the Con argument.

This was a very well presented, informative, and presented debate. In such, Genya presented and defended her position to a greater extent than her opponent, ktprktpr. Well fought debate by both. Congratulations to both!

Really close on this one, but Genya began with the upper hand of experience, and thus concluded the same.

Fantastic job guys.

[Edited on 29-2-2004 by Kano]

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