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“You Cannot Fatten a Pig by Measuring It” – Jonathan Jansen Critiques Government School Assessments

How to Fix South Africa's SchoolsWe Need to ActJonathan Jansen recently wrote an article for Rand Daily Mail on the Annual National Assessments and the problem with governments that “introduce high-stakes assessment in a school system”.

The Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State and author of How to Fix South Africa’s Schools: Lessons from Schools that Work and We Need to Act explains that stringent assessment criteria change the way teachers teach and learners learn.

The fear of public shaming causes schools to do unthinkable things in the same of achievement, he writes, but how does this affect disadvantaged schools?

Jansen says: “It is a saying familiar to measurement specialists — you cannot fatten a pig by measuring it.”

Read the article:

When public shaming is part of the political calculus for a department of education, the stakes increase enormously and gross distortion occurs. There is a large volume of research and experience to prove this for several countries.

Now imagine you are a disadvantaged school and there have been no significant interventions for educational improvement at your school.

Regardless, the annual assessments come rolling around as usual and, despite the lack of opportunity, you will be publicly shamed unless results improve.

So you do the unthinkable — you try to spike the results. Before long the teachers are spending inordinate amounts of time “prepping” for the ANAs rather than doing the hard work of teaching to ensure every pupil meets a reasonable standard of competence.

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