Testing is a critical component to teaching and yet it can often be a “dirty word” in education. Teaching senior students inherently involves constantly delivering and creating regular formal and informal tests all of which vary in style and purpose. Due to the nature of our external assessment system, testing is a reality for most of our students. Whether you agree with the notion and philosophy behind our current system becomes irrelevant as our priority remains student well-being and life success. Rephrasing testing in terms of measuring student improvement and growth has benefits that extend well beyond the classroom.
As educators we want our students to fundamentally believe that qualities such as intelligence can be nurtured and developed. We want our students to believe that these qualities are not fixed. When teachers encourage growth mindsets research shows that students are more open to challenges, receptive to constructive feedback, resilient when faced with failure and convinced that effort makes a difference. Fostering this mindset leads students to see their intelligence and abilities as something that can be improved upon with the right strategies, revision and greater confidence.
Although Neap offers many tests for senior students, they do not prescribe how they should be used in the classroom. All testing pedagogy remains with the teacher. Using Neap tests for revision, knowledge base and to discover what needs to be taught are obvious goals. However, using Neap tests as a tool for students to acknowledge their growth and improvement is just as important. Including reflective tasks before and after the test can be instrumental when encouraging growth mindset for senior students. This encourages them embrace challenges, persist with setbacks, seek guidance and set goals. Cultivating this classroom culture has benefits well beyond the test score.