Unfortunately a significant number of students in Korea, Japan, China and Taiwan are not. Why? Because they chose suicide rather than continue their miserable lives as students preparing for these tests.
How can we slow the death rate? We have to cut off the demand for the results of such tests.
Where is the demand coming from? Well, if you look at these excerpts from the sites of the three major language tests – IELTS, TOEIC and TOEFL – you’ll see that just about every government, educational institution, company and organisation in the Western world (and up to 190 countries) demands these tests. So these are the people that need to be convinced of the need to stop.
“IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions, over 2,000 academic institutions in the United States, and various professional organisations. It is also a requirement for immigration to Australia and Canada.”
“Today TOEIC® test scores are used by more than 9,000 companies, government agencies and English language learning programs in more than 90 countries, and more than 5 million TOEIC tests were administered last year.”
“The TOEFL® test (Test of English as a Foreign Language™) is the most widely respected English-language test in the world, recognized by more than 7,500 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries.”
I doubt if the proponents of these tests publish suicide data. Perhaps someone should ask them if they are even aware of, let alone care about, the effects their examinations are having on the lives of so many millions of students. Clearly they are making considerable amounts of money selling these products, but how much of that are they putting back into student counselling and health education? When does turning a blind eye become impossible any longer?
While the questioning of standardized tests on the basis of our growing research base into assessment reliability and validity is well and good, and we can waggle our fingers at those bold enough to attempt cheating, I think there are larger issues at play in using them as the sole or major criterion for making life (and death) decisions.
I can only hope that the discussion will broaden and become part of the mainstream dialogue of those working in this massive educational industry.
Posted today at http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/undoing-the-damage-of-high-stakes-testing/#comment-1189