经济学人|Papers, please——快点考试吧!疫情影响了全世界的学生考试

Exams are grim, but most alternatives are worse.

考试很残酷,但大多数选择都很糟糕。

Around the world covid-19 has messed up children’s education. They began to be shut out of classrooms all the way back in February. Even in countries where schools have stayed open, lessons and tests have been disrupted. Some countries pressed ahead with national exams (see International section) this year. A few others, including Britain, France and Ireland, cancelled them all. They came up with new ways of awarding grades instead. The fact that big exams have proved so vulnerable to disruption has led to new questions about their usefulness. Are there better ways of measuring what children have learned?

新冠在全世界扰乱了孩子们了教育。他们从二月份就开始被禁止进入教室。即便是在学校仍然开放的国家,课程和考试也被中断。有一些国家今年继续推进了国家考试。其它一些国家包括英国、法国和爱尔兰等,则全部取消了考试。取而代之的是,他们想出了新的评分方式。事实证明,大型考试很容易受到干扰,这就在其有效性方面引发了一些新问题。有没有更好的方法来衡量孩子们学到了什么?

Exams have plenty of problems. They are often unreliable; a study in Israel found that test-takers’ performance can be affected by smog. Many children find them stressful. Plenty of places run them badly. Poorly written test papers in developing countries lead to wild swings in pass rates. Countries, including Algeria and Ethiopia, have resorted to shutting down the internet at exam time to prevent cheating.

考试存在很多问题。他们往往不可靠:以色列的一项研究发现,考生的表现可能会受到雾霾的影响。许多孩子感觉压力很大。很多地方让他们感觉很糟糕。在发展中国家,糟糕的笔试导致他们的通过率剧烈波动。包括Algeria 和 Ethiopia 在内的一些国家已经在考试期间凭借关闭互联网来防止作弊。

Yet most of the world’s best-performing school systems retain some kind of high-stakes tests, and for good reason. Other kinds of assessments are rarely better and many are worse. If teachers are responsible for appraising their pupils’ work, they may reinforce their own biases. Studies have caught them giving lower grades to students from ethnic minorities or those who are fat. Grades in American high schools are inflating fast, in part because pushy middle-class parents insist their little darlings deserve better. A glut of top marks makes it even harder for clever pupils from poor homes to stand out.

然而,大部分世界上表现比较好的学校组织,仍然保留着一些高风险的测试,并且有充分的理由。其他类型的评估,则很少有更好的,大多数会更糟糕。如果老师们负责他们学生作业的评价,他们很可能会增加自身的偏见。研究表明,他们会给少数民族和比较胖的学生较低的分数。美国高中生的成绩在迅速膨胀,一定程度上,是因为爱出风头的中产阶级父母坚持认为他们的小宝贝应该得到更好的成绩。

Forgoing exams does not always alleviate pupils’ anxiety. Some would rather be tested at the end of their course than have their work constantly assessed. Coursework can waste students’ efforts by encouraging them to tweak a few projects endlessly. That leaves less time for other kinds of learning.

放弃考试并不总能缓解学生的焦虑。有些人宁愿在课程结束时考试,也不愿意边学习便测试。课程作业会让学生无休止的修改几个项目,这浪费了他们的精力。这就减少了其它学习的时间。

The pandemic should not alter these judgments much. It is true that officials in England, where important exams were cancelled, would have found it easier to calculate which grades to hand out if their system had allowed pupils to acquire some marks in advance of their final tests. But other places managed to plough ahead with exams. Countries as diverse in their success against covid-19 as China, Germany and Spain all held some kind of examination this year, even if they changed the format.

流行病不应当太多的改变这种情况。的确,在重要考试被取消的英国,官员们说,如果他们的制度允许学生在期末考试前获得一些分数,那么最终成绩的计算将会变得更容易一些。但是其它地区仍然在继续考试。像中国、西班牙、德国这些在抗击疫情方面取得不同程度成功的国家,今年都举行了某种形式的考试,尽管他们调整了考试形式。

In many countries the prospect—and pressure—of exams probably helped get pupils back into classrooms after initial lockdowns came to an end. Those facing important tests were generally invited back to school first. Their return helped give teachers and parents confidence that other pupils could safely join them. Kenya ended up letting exam-takers return to school in October, even though it had previously announced that it was cancelling all classes until the end of 2020.

在许多国家,最初的封禁结束后,考试的前景和压力可能迫使学生们回到教室。那些面临重要考试的学生,通常会被首先通知回到学校。他们的回归给了老师和家长们信心——其它的同学也可以安全的加入他们了。尽管肯尼亚之前宣布取消了2020年底之前的所有课程,但最终还是在10月份让考生回到了学校。

Some countries that called off exams this year are still deciding whether and how to hold them in 2021. Many pupils are still making do with remote learning. Wales says it will not hold any of the tests usually sat by 16- and 18-year-olds next year because disparities in the amount of face-to-face teaching pupils are receiving would make formal exams unfair.

今年已经取消考试的一些国家,仍在决定是否举办,以及如何举办2021年的考试。许多学生仍然在设法适应远程学习。威尔士表示,明年将不会举办任何通常由16-18年龄段学生组成的考试,因为那些接受当面教育的学生数量差异会导致考试变得不公平。

Governments may need to tweak next year’s tests, as many did this year. That could mean cutting the amount of material to be tested. Exam boards may also have to boost the grades of pupils who have spent the most time out of the classroom. But the most important exams should go ahead in some form. Many pupils have studied ferociously throughout this difficult year. They should have the chance to earn the grades they deserve.

政府可能需要对明年的考试进行调整,就像许多国家今年做的这样。这可能意味着将会减少考试材料的数量。考试委员会可能必须要增加那些在教室外花费更多时间学习的学生成绩。但是,最重要的考试应当以某种形式进行。在这困难的一年里,许多学生都在拼命的学习。他们应当有机会获得自己应得的成绩。

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