Global Updates From World View
May 2011

Testing Practices and Stories
from Around the World

EOGs, EOCs, ABCs, oh my!  We all know what May brings to North Carolina classrooms . . . tests.  And more tests.  World View wishes all of you well as you endure the challenges and opportunities that these tests bring to your classrooms.  Below we give you a few snapshots of testing requirements in several countries.  World View also asked a few foreign national educators from across the globe to share stories of testing from their home countries.  These educators currently reside in the United States and are able to comment on their own personal experiences from abroad and in the U.S.

Click on a flag to learn more about testing in a particular country or to read a personal story!

argentina   china   colombia   costa_rica   france   germany   india
                         
mexico   russia   sweden   taiwan   tunisia   United_kingdom   zimbabwe

A special thank you to Katharine Laco, World View Assistant Program Manager, for her help in creating this issue and to World View friends who shared stories, adding a unique and personal perspective this month!

 

Argentina

argentina

The teaching style in Argentina is “learning by rote” where students copy notes from the blackboard into a “carpeta” or binder.  Students are marked on the neatness and accuracy of their copying, and they are tested three times a year on the contents of their “carpeta.”  In all subjects the exam pass rate is 7 out of 10.  Students who do not pass their exams in every subject at the end of the school year are held back to repeat the year.

Costa Rica

costa_rica

The Costa Rica Ministry of Education requires testing of all students (private and public schools) at 6th grade, 9th grade, and the end of high school.  The students must pass the exams to receive their high school diploma.  The 6th grade exam, referred to as “Pruebas Nacionales de Sexto”, tests students in Math, Social Studies, Science, and Spanish.  The 9th grade exam adds English, French, and Civics.  The final exam covers the same subjects.  Upon passage, a student receives his/her high school diploma or bachillerato.

Stories from Costa Rica:

From my personal experience as an American living in Costa Rica with my two sons in a small private Costa Rican run elementary school, testing is standard practice throughout the year; this goes for the public schools as well.  One of my sons is in fourth grade and the other is in second grade.  Initially, I was very surprised by the four times a year organized school-wide testing periods.  When I was teaching fourth and fifth grade in the public schools in Charlotte, NC I was used to the EOG and intense preparation.  This testing of four times a year in CR seemed too much to me from the perspective of what a big deal the EOGs are and the pressure of them. 

There seems to be no big over-the-top focus on the tests in terms of preparing or celebrating.  No breakfasts or extra recess after.  The students get percent grades on all their exams so they learn about scores very early, first grade actually.
  
There is a standardized national final high school exam in 11th grade.  The marks received from this test determine certain opportunities into higher education.  There is more preparation for this test where students might even use tutors to help prepare. 

India

india

Under the current education system in India, students are required to take three to four exams per academic year before they are promoted to the next grade.  At the end of 10th and 12th grades, students sit for a school board exam.  These exams are conducted either statewide or nationwide, and are centrally prepared, administered, and graded.  Performance on these exams is crucial for seeking admission to universities and colleges and to gain access to prestigious careers.  Due to the importance of exam performance, students begin attending coaching classes at a young age and often continue their studies during school vacation. 

Stories from India:

Annual exams happen in India in April before the summer vacation. Students take tests in each subject that they have been learning throughout the year. Usually the tests are out of 100 points (or marks as they are called in India) and usually the passing grade is 40 marks.  Each student gets a syllabus for the exam to study and an exam schedule. Each exam is usually 2-3 hours. The exams run one in the morning and one in the afternoon with lunch in between.   Based on their performance in the annual exams, students are promoted, failed, or promoted with warning.  Each student is assigned a seat in their classroom and there are no open book exams.  A teacher monitors the room during the exam. Usually report cards are distributed in class right before the summer vacation that begins in early-mid May.

It was always so stressful because if you fail, then you are held back and all your friends move on. You then have to spend the next year with your juniors who will be your new classmates and they will know that you were held back-that's was the worst possible embarrassment of all times...  My parents didn't put any pressure, but it was obvious that you had to get "promoted".

Sweden

sweden

At the end of 5th grade, non-compulsory national tests are offered in Swedish, English, and Math.  These tests have a diagnostic purpose, helping teachers understand their students’ learning.  Teachers consider not only the answer but also how students work the problem.  Students can express their knowledge in different ways using pictures, words, and symbols.  Also, the assessments include group and individual work as well as self-assessment.  In 9th grade, the national tests are compulsory, but they may still include group work or an oral component.  In upper secondary school, Swedish students are tested at the end of each course.

Taiwan

taiwan

In Taiwan, students spend junior high preparing for the national senior high school entrance exams which they take at the end of 8th grade.  Their scores determine which high school they can attend.  Although school officially ends at 5pm, junior high students often stay until 8 or 9pm for supplementary instruction.  Schools also hold “optional” supplementary classes during winter and summer vacation.  In many cases, participation is mandatory.  Once in senior high school, students then strive to score well enough on the national university entrance exams so they can attend a four-year university in Taiwan. 

Tunisia

tunisia

Tunisian students attend six years of primary school, and at the end of the sixth year, they must score above 50 percent on an exam in order to progress to the lower secondary level.  After three years of lower secondary education, students sit for another exam.  Upon passage, students receive the Diplôme de Fin d’Études de l’Enseignement which is required to begin secondary education.  At the end of the fourth year of secondary studies, students take the Examen National du Baccalauréat which tests them on six core subjects.  Only students attaining a diploma can pursue post-secondary education.

Zimbabwe

zimbabwe

Students in Zimbabwe complete seven years of primary schooling before taking four nationally-set exams in Math, English, Shona or Ndebele (local languages), and Content (a combination of science and social science).  Students take the national exams in November, as the school year runs January to December.  Secondary school consists of four years of “O” level and two years of “A” level curriculum.  Exams in “O” and “A” levels are offered in June and November, and exam topics range from biology and chemistry to metalwork and fashion & fabrics.  As in the United States, grades of A, B, and C are considered passing.

china

Stories from China

At the final exam, before the test was given out to a class of 20 students, a Biology professor said to the class, "I am very happy to have you as my students this semester. I know all of you have been studying hard, and many of you will enter medical schools this fall. Therefore, I have an idea for today's test. If any of you will give up taking the test today, you will automatically get a “B”.  Hearing this, the students were surprised and excited.  Many of them got up and walked to the professor. They thanked the professor, signed their names and left the classroom. After they left, the professor looked at those who stayed and offered them a final chance to leave. One more student got up, signed his name and left the classroom.  The professor then closed the classroom door and looked at the small number of students who stayed. He said to them, "I am very pleased with the confidence you have with yourselves. All of you get an “A”.

More from China
Some years ago, I took a course, an elective (I think), called Creative Studies, (or something like that). I never went to the class. At the final exam, I wrote all Chinese characters in my answer upside down (or in reverse) except these few characters, "I am very creative, am I not?"   I got the test back.  The teacher gave me 09 (out of 100) as my test score and a comment that said, "reading score in reverse (backwards/upside down), you passed".     **Note: For Chinese tests  (100 is the full score, 60 is the passing grade).

We cannot think of any celebration for the end of the class such as those we see in U.S.  However, mostly at the K-12 level depending upon schools/teachers, 'graduation-like' ceremonies may be held on the last day of semester where a class's top 3 academic achievers are honored with certificates and gifts (books, pencils, pens, etc.).

colombia

Stories from Colombia

In my country, Colombia, the college admission process begins with a standardized test (similar to the SAT, but longer and more comprehensive) administered by the Instituto Colombiano para el Fomento de la Educación Superior prior to high school graduation.  It is recognized nationally as the most important test since it qualifies students according to their actual academic skills and impacts acceptance outcomes at public and private colleges. When I took it in 1981 the highest possible score was in the low 400s and the minimum in order to pass and be able to graduate from high school was 213. The minimum to be able to apply for college was 250. More than 280, was considered a good score; above 300, was considered a very good score, and more than 340 was excellent.

I did have my period of agony the day we were receiving our scores in front of the whole class! My twin sister was one of the first to be called and she got a score above three hundred. As more classmates were being called to go and get their scores, I was praying in silence, convinced I was probably going to get one in the low 200s and maybe not even be able to graduate from high school that year. When my name was finally called towards the end, I found out that my score was also above 300, and only one point different from my twin sister. Through the years we have proved to be identical twin sisters in more than one way, I guess! It felt GREAT!!!

United_kingdom

Stories from England

When I was in secondary school in England in the late 70's early 80's, there was no stress relief for testing.  At the end of each school year when testing would take place, many of the teachers would let us bring in board games and other forms of amusement that could be easily administered in the classroom.  We would have impromptu chess and draughts (Checkers) competitions, Monopoly, Sorry and Connect Four games abounded, while some of the students simply read books.  Parties used to be at the discretion of individual teachers, but if administered, were always subdued and by no means raucous extravaganzas.  The most significant event at the end of the school year was the selection of the student who was "fortunate" enough to take home the class rodent for the summer holidays.  Some classes had a rabbit, some had mice, ours was a gerbil.  This was a high honor indeed, but being a rather rambunctious youngster, one of my teachers even referred to me as loquacious, I never was selected, which was probably just as well.

france

Stories from France


We did not have different rooms for different classes; the teachers came into the rooms which were divided according to the age of the pupils. I was in boarding school, and it was a long time ago!  We had a big test at the end of the year to see if we would pass to the other grade and we also had an award ceremony at the end of each school year. We actually were given medals for each subject and behavior.

More from France
In the French educational system, the knowledge you’ve gained throughout high school culminates in a series of exams across various subjects at the end of your senior year called the Baccalaureat. In 10th grade, students are separated into “sections”, which focus on an area of study – literature, economics and social sciences, and scientific. Although this focus allows students to allocate more weight to the exams in the subjects that fall under these sections, students are still required to take lengthy exams in all subjects spanning languages, physics and chemistry, math, philosophy, history, geography, and athletics, to name the ones I recall off the top of my head.  The extreme relief that comes from wrapping up two weeks of intense testing is released into celebrations among friends and the prom, which is held a week after the exams are finished. Given that French high schools don’t typically have a formal graduation event, walking out of your final test becomes a similar right of passage and as rewarding as high school graduation ceremonies.

germany

Stories from Germany

There are regular tests and exams throughout the school year in Germany. There are no EOGs. The exception is the very strenuous and important Abitur exams (high school exams after the 12th grade). The Abitur exams are cumulative and can cover anything covered in the last two years of high school.
For the Abitur exams, because I chose English and French as my majors, I had a 4-6 hour written exam in English and one in French, a 2-3 hour exam in biology, and a 30-60 min. oral exam in social science. This all happens in a week or two, and the grades make up a big part of your final grade.

Many students “rush the school” a few weeks after the exams, play pranks on the teachers, and party with all students for a few hours during school time. For instance, we camped out at the school the night before the rush. We placed yoghurt cups filled with water on the stairs to the teacher’s lounge and hid the key to the teacher’s lounge in a hay stack. The longer it takes for the teachers to get into the teachers’ lounge, the longer all other students at the school can party before classes can start. We also had a band from among our students that play in the school court yard for the party.

Many Abitur students also organize a ball/dance to celebrate more formally with the parents and teachers. However, this is completely dependent on the students, and they are the ones who organize it. As far as I know, high schools in Germany do not have a formal dance that they organize.
 Some students do get stressed about the regular tests and exams, but again there is nothing official that is done. This is mostly handled by the families. Many students do some activities like sports, music, theater and other hobbies that could be considered a stress relief.

More from Germany
Germany does not have that test addiction as the US. Generally in Elementary School there are few tests and of course no EOGs. And tests are not the main source of grading. However, every teacher is pretty free how she handles tests. Very often they are not even coordinated within the grade level. That applies also to secondary schools where testing is common and especially in the advanced secondary schools, like Mittelschule and Gymnasium, an important source for the grading. Still there are no EOGs or EOCs. Tests are administered throughout the year approximately once a month or once every six weeks and feed into the grading.

We also do not have anything like AP or AP exams. At the end of the Gymnasium, very important end of school exams are administered as part of the Abitur examination. Similar exams (but not as challenging) are administered at the end of the 10th grade in order to determine whether a student qualifies for the upper level secondary school (grades 11 and 12) that lead to the Abitur with its certification to attend a university.

mexico
Stories from Mexico

The only tradition not student-based like "irse de pinta", which means skipping school after a test or other time the opportunity was given, is the traditional end of the year festival. I particularly remember one festival where I dressed as a chicken and had to sing a song called "la gallina turuleca".   Every classroom would organize a dance. Perfect coordination was achieved through endless practice. During these times our PE class was substituted with dance preparations.  Parents would volunteer to make the outfits for the class or the teacher would find a place where we all needed to purchase the pertinent uniform. Despite the craziness of these festivals, I have fond memories of them. I remember looking forward to taking the tests so that we could end the semester with what we all thought would be a grandiose performance.

russia

Stories from Russia


Tests were just a part of life in Russia.  It is an expectation and the norm, so normally it is not something to be anxious about - it's not like it is a surprise of sorts.  We have been having tests since elementary school, whether as dictations, quizzes or regular tests (no multiple choice usually, mostly show the work types of tests or essay writing).  The finals in the higher grades often ended with flowers or chocolate souvenirs to each teacher as a "thank you" at the end of the year.  The "big finals" included written and oral exams.  Oral exams produce some anxiety as the pull of questions is quite large and you are in front of a panel of several teachers who will drill you.  Once you are done, you may end up with a party to celebrate the end of the school year, or even better, an outing to an amusement park or a café.

Coming to America, I found it very surprising to see an increasing number of children freaking out about the tests and having sometimes debilitating anxiety, especially among upper classmen. 

 

Do you have information to share?

Do you have information that you would like to share with other educators across the state? You are welcome to submit interesting global education programs that are going on in your schools, announcements about global education seminars, new resources that others might find interesting, etc. Please email Julie at jmarante@email.unc.edu with your "update-worthy" items!

Reader Mailbag

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Disclaimer
World View at UNC-Chapel Hill provides information, resources, and announcements for educational purposes only. It does not represent an endorsement of organizations or point of view by World View or The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!

symp2011


World View’s 2011 Symposiums explore the ten years post September 11 and how this significant 21st century event has shaped global perspectives in geopolitics, East-West relations, and educational discourse. We also will look at the nature and causes of international conflict, human rights, peace resolutions, and more. These symposiums offer general sessions, concurrent sessions, and support for school and college-based teams in creating an Action Plan for globalizing schools and colleges. These programs are designed for administrators and teachers of all grade levels and disciplines, and provide current information and unique strategies for helping students learn about the world.

Location: The Friday Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cost ( North Carolina Educators): Registration is $175 per person. A team of 4 is $600 (save $100). A team is comprised of 4 or more individuals organized from the same school, district, college. Only $150 for each additional team member.
Cost (Out-of-State Educators): Registration is $275 per person.

For more information, please call the World View office at 919/962-9264 or visit www.unc.edu/world

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Foreign Currency Kits Available

Borrow Money from World View today!


moneykit

The Foreign Currency Kit contains currency, both bills and coins, from over 35 countries and may be borrowed by educators in North Carolina. It is designed for K-12 educators as a learning tool, using tangible items to teach about people and places, as well as a means for integrating global content across multiple subject areas. Interested higher education educators may also borrow the Kit.

How can I borrow a Kit?
Any North Carolina educator may borrow an available Kit for up to three weeks. To borrow a Kit, please download and read the lending policies and complete a "Lending Agreement".

What's in the Box?
Money!  In each Currency Kit there are coins and bills from over 35 countries or territories. The Foreign Currency Kit also contains useful reference books, a map, an inventory of coins and bills included and their country or territory of origin, as well as suggested educator activities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT:
unc.edu/world/Currency_Kit/currencykit.shtml

 

first Congratulations to
World View's
Magnet School Partners!

Farmington Woods International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme was named the top magnet elementary school in the nation this week by the Magnet Schools of America. The award includes a $2,500 prize for the school. Farmington Woods was selected out of 227 magnet schools from throughout the country. It was one of 15 Wake County magnet schools recognized in a variety of categories.

Other World View magnet partners in Wake receiving awards include:

- Joyner Center for Spanish Language/IB Magnet
- Garner IB Magnet High
- East Garner IB Magnet Middle

The full press release can be found here.

Congratulations also to World View partner Johnson Street Global Elementary in Guilford County for being awarded a School of Distinction from the Magnet Schools of America.

Witness to Revolution

Revolution

American student Andrew Simon, witness to the Egyptian revolution, shares his photos and impressions of the uprising in Tahrir Square.  This presentation was originally a Culture Cafe for online students of Arabic through NC Virtual Public School.  It was produced in partnership with the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies.  It's now available online for viewing by all on TeacherTube.  Here's the link: http://bit.ly/lmdHR8 or click here.

The presentation and discussion is in English, with occasional Arabic (which is translated) and is appropriate for middle and high school students.   

Click here for more information about Culture Cafes. 
ncvpsculturecafe.blogspot.com/2009/07/
ncvps-culture-cafe.html
 

For questions about Culture Cafes and online world language learning, contact Ellen Minter at ellen.minter@ncpublicschools.gov

For more information about Middle East outreach, contact Dr. Regina Higgins at regina_higgins@unc.edu

Teacher Strategies for Reducing
Test Anxiety

  • Discuss the purpose of the test and how it can help students progress academically.

  • Have realistic expectations of students’ performance while encouraging students to do their best.

  • Allow students to express their anxiety verbally or in writing.

  • Be careful not to overemphasize the importance of the test.

Testing Skills Rock!

(to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock”)

Testing skills, testing skills, testing skills rock
All these great ways to beat the clock.
Listening and following directions to be
As prepared as I should be.

Testing skills, testing skills, testing skills rock
Rested and fed so there’s no brain-block
Skim the test first, looking for all the cues
These are the ways to cure test blues.

Testing skills, testing skills, testing skills rock
Taking my time…who cares ‘bout the clock?
Stay calm and focused, I know it all well
My results will ring the bell!

written by a Missouri teacher.

Global Citizen Corps for
High School and University Students

Do you know high school or university students who care about global issues and want the skills to mobilize their communities to take action? Tell students to apply to the Global Citizen Corps Program -- an exciting and enriching opportunity that’s fun, educational and gives you an opportunity to interact with youth from around the world.

Global Citizen Corps is an international network of youth who educate and mobilize their schools and communities to make a difference.  Leaders work with Mercy Corps staff to get the training and tools to organize Global Action projects that address challenges linked to poverty, hunger, climate change, access to education, global health and conflict at a local level. Through the online network, live video conferences and international exchanges youth leaders share their projects and experiences across cultures, communities and countries.

The Global Citizen Corps has leadership programs in nine different countries: Gaza, Haiti, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan, US & UK. Participants can either join our online leadership program (with training opportunities throughout the year) or choose to attend our intensive national leadership training in Portland, OR from July 5-9th.  Students will receive training from Mercy Corps experts, engage in a video-conference with their international peers and gain the skills necessary to take meaningful action. 

Visit www.globalcitizencorps.org/leadership to apply and to learn more about what Global Citizen Corps is visit www.globalcitizencorps.org/us.

If you have any questions or would like printed materials please contact Sailesh Naidu directly at snaidu@nyc.mercycorps.org.

Past Editions of Global Updates Available

travel

Traveling this summer and need tips on how to make the best of your international travel experience?

Looking for ideas to get your students involved in an international summer opportunity?

Need a good book to take to the beach?

Check out archived editions of Global Updates for tips on international travel, summer opportunities for educators and students, recommended "global" reads, world languages, globalizing curriculum on a budget, bringing the world to students through technology, adding a global dimension to your after school program, and much more.

Global Updates are developed around a theme, so even if the announcements from past editions are "out dated" much of the content in the issue is still useful!

www.unc.edu/world/Global_Updates.shtml