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Teacher’s talk

Three teachers are talking in the teacher’s office amid their busy schedule of assessing answer sheet of test. Sometimes, teacher’s office is a comfortable place to sell and bargain information on students. This week is the second week of students’ marathon week test. Last week was Examination School Level, and this week is Performance Test. The School Level of Examination test items were prepared by teacher organization of regency level and financially supported by education department.

The test itself does not become the topic of teacher’s talk this very moment. But how the students did the test attracted teacher. The first day went smoothly. The second day, one teacher complained that she found a student who kept answer keys for the test.

The first teacher (T1) said, “ how can I give my students fair score, if the score I got from the test did not represent student’s ability, their mark were similar, the mistake also happened at the same number, the pattern of the answer was just alike”. The second teacher (T2) added, “Mine was worst, all the students paper say nothing on students’ achievements”.  Teacher no.3 said the same thing.

You can imagine, the education department of the regency level had made a great effort to prepare the test and finance the test. It was started by collecting three teachers to design the test item in accordance with the subject given at elementary, junior and senior high school, and vocational school.  The budget must be very huge, even though each of the teacher was only given Rp. 100.000 or about US$ 12 to make three types of test sets. One set cost US$ 4. Set A and B each consist of 50 multiple choice test item, that have to be finished made at a day (start at 7 in the morning and finish at 8 at night). It means US$ 0.08, less than a cent…..What a low price for test developer in this regency. After the teacher finished making the three sets of test, all the sets were given to the committee to be printed and shared to all schools in the entire regency. Again huge budget run to make this to happen. Then, the paper test came to every school. A high school with parallel class, for example 7 classes times 40 student in each class, it needs 280 copied of paper test. If one test consist of 18 pages, can you imagine how many paper needed and how much money needed. One students need 18 pages times 13 subjects is equal to 234 printed pages excluded the cover.  One parallel class needs 234 pages times 280 students or similar to 65.520 pages, if a page is assumed costs Rp. 100, it will consumes Rp. 6.552.000/school. In this regency, high schools are 35, so it needs at least 229.320.000 (two hundred and twenty nine million, three hundred and twenty thousand rupiah!)

 Unfortunately, those entire big steps were slaughtered by the spreading ‘answer key’ around students. Where students got the answer key, they were hard to open their mouth to say any name.  Forget the source of the answer key where it is from; let’s see the negative effects of the answer key to students and teachers.

The first for the students (a) they finished the 2 hours test in 30 minutes! The question is did they read the question before blacken the answer sheet? Or they relied on the answer keys in their hands. The process of learning and assessing did not occur. They did not use their brain. Their brain rest and cause them to be more stupid as they did not cross check the answer key whether it is the right answer key or just a rumbling answer key. (b) Students insult teacher indirectly.  The test items made would be a product of hard work, if a student does the test without reading the test, what kind of student she is. Every words that exist in the test stem and the options of A, B, C, D, or E drain the teacher’s thought. (c) Student thinks that test is not a big thing to do. What they need is money. Using their money they can get the answer key and all the learning process at the class they follow day by day go the trash. Money can buy everything including answer key. Opportunist student can say that school is a place for them to play and leave their routines at home; there is no need to study as for the test without any stay late they get the answer key and period. (d) Student gets addicted with answer key for every test. During school life, student has at least three times of level scale of test, and for those tests they count on answer key. (e) student believes that as long as the test are given in multiple choice, they chance to get answer key is open. (f) Student believes that syndicate answer key seller always directly find them who need the service.

Secondly, for the teacher the answer key (a) paralyze the system of assessment.  When the answers students made are similar any analyze to that answer will come up with ‘misleading analyze result’.  All the options at the test item did not work. Or analyze will say that the questions must be dropped. (b) teacher trusts on test decreasing. How can a teacher believe in test if the answers given by students say nothing unless removing alien’s thought and copy it to their answer sheet. (c) Waste time. Teacher dedicates her time to check students’ answer, every number every sheet, until hundred of sheets. But it turns into wasting time when the answers are relatively use similar pattern of answer. (d) waste of energy. (e) disappointment, (f) another job waits, re-test, means another making of test item, another proctor, another checking answer, another stay late. (f) the worst, teacher consider tests as something a ceremony to be followed without any effect can be taken from it.  

Those three teachers were still talking when I leave them. They are as frustrated as I am who said nothing to their conversation.  I believe that those teachers did nothing to change the fact they were facing. The shortest way can be done, is just ignoring the score they got and gave the score according to the ongoing score available in their assessment book. All the works they did went for nothing.


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