My friend, whom I met when I worked in an international school in Bangkok, worked in a bilingual school in Thailand before the school where I met him. He said it was an interesting job, but he was glad to be working at a school with a different emphasis.

The school he worked at had pretty good test results, some of the best in the country. Students would consistently score well on the state standardized tests held all over Thailand. So my friend went to observe the best teacher in the school, as measured by how well her kids did on the standardized tests.

He told me that he watched 2.5 hours of this teacher reading out answers from previous standardized tests. She did nothing else! She didn’t ask any questions, she didn’t check for any understanding from the students, she spent 150 minutes going through questions and their solutions on a multiple choice exam.

What type of education system do you want? Is this what we want to emulate? Time and time again I remind myself how grateful I am to work in the International Baccalaureate framework where the only year I have to worry about a standardized test is at the end of 12th grade. Fortunately the exams at the end of the IB program are at least well written.

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