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Mythbusting: 5 ways over testing is ineffective towards learning

Myth Busting: 5 Ways Over Testing is Ineffective Towards Learning

Testing in schools is perceived as an important measure of student learning and achievements. Testing can provide an objective way to compare student understanding, find learning gaps, and mark growth over time. But testing results can also be misrepresented student learning, be skewed both by performance and by marking bias, and in how results are interpreted.  Testing also paints a limited picture of true learning and may significantly reduce the amount of time students actually spend learning. At Canadian International School (CIS) Bangalore, we understand the benefits of authentically assessing student understanding while balancing time spent for students become efficient learners. Here’s why:

  • Testing reinforces binary thinking

Frequent testing pushes students to learn without meaning and establish their perspective on the topic. This narrow approach promotes only two ways of thinking: right and wrong. Binary thinking doesn’t allow students to think creatively, and discourages students from holding multiple perspectives to a situation or problem. Rather, it forces students to “mug up for the test” as the goal and not on true learning.

  • Testing destroys the true purpose of learning

The true purpose of education is to support students to become truly responsible for their own learning independent of testing expectations and to develop these habits for a life full of learning. Over testing lacks application in the real world and promotes a culture that prepares students for test-taking, not true problem-solving.  Students tend to learn to pass their tests, and teachers teach to help students pass and make themselves look good. The process focuses on testing and not on learning. 

This creates a cycle in schools of a “fixed mindset where things like intelligence and marks are based on innate ability and not on effort, grit, and learning from failures through reflection. A growth mindset, on the other hand, leads to learners not looking at failures as such, but as learning opportunities, that learning and intelligence are based on effort, and that this leads to students developing habits to be life-long learners or active agents in their own learning.  Their motivation is internal, from the desire to learn and grow, and not external- getting that “good job” from testing marks.

  • Testing doesn’t measure relative knowledge

Contextual understanding is an important part of the learning process at CIS. Our students have the opportunity to learn through doing. When learning is authentic, based on real-world and local issues, students can connect with what they are doing, apply it in the real world, and see the purpose in what they do.  This helps to inspire their curiosity and zest to learn more. Frequent tests only measure a part of the knowledge that students learn in their classes without any regard for real-world applications. 

  • Testing puts undue pressure on students

The pressure to perform well on tests can be intense. Imagine if these tests are conducted frequently by the school – students would go through an immense amount of stress to perform well. This is unnecessary and should be avoided.  Additionally, the “tuitions culture” overtaxes students as it reinforces that what they do in school is not important and only tutors can help them pass exams. These same tutors have a fixed mindset on testing and are in the business to reinforce the idea that students cannot be successful without them.  Instead, the tuition culture creates an environment where students doubt their own ability, are exceptionally tired from the hours of extra study and inhibits focus during school hours.

  • Testing segregates students based on grades

In a “fixed mindset” world, an average or poor grade on a test can negatively impact the confidence level in students – especially when they are classified into groups based on their grades. Students who learn and develop in a “growth mindset” environment see setbacks as points of learning and areas of focus.  They do this because they know the importance of learning is on the process of learning and not the product of learning- the test score.  It is important to have an inclusive environment in the classroom where students are motivated to learn instead of being pushed away from the prospect of their personal growth.

CIS is a front-runner within Bangalore in promoting an education system that is supportive of the learning and the growth of its students. Learning at CIS is a transformative process that leads to conceptual understanding, the demonstration of competencies through application, and character development as seen through the CIS Core Values.  Through the 3 C’s of Concept, Character, and Competency, students are able to make sense of their world, find balance in life, and develop approaches and habits to learning that will last their entire lifetime.

To learn more about Canadian International School (CIS), a top school in Bangalore, visit our website. For admissions information, please write to