I believe that exams are necessary to assess student learning within a class. What I am opposed to is the current emphasis on tests above all else and using this data as a rating system. The tests by themselves are not the issue; it is the combination of all the tests which a school must give to prove whatever. Time is then spent preparing for these tests and giving them rather than teaching what students should be learning. The amount of staff time and student time in incredible and could be better spent in other ways.
Exams are helpful tools for learning as well as tools for assessment. This alone seems to be a strong enough argument in favor of exams to maintain them in our curricula.
Exams help to reinforce key concepts, solidify knowledge, exercise expression and at the same time offer motivational opportunities to students to push themselves.
If there is no standard of making students accountable, how much will they learn? Certainly, exams, assessments--whatever term is used--are essential to education. They sometimes are motivators for students to learn, but they are certainly a source of pride and recognition for the good student.
Besides, students need to learn that they must attain a certain level for competence in a job or a profession. How would we feel if physicians were not tested, or lawyers, or firemen, or policemen?
I would replace 'examination' with assessment. Assessment should drive instruction, so it most certainly shuld not be eliminated from schools. Providing students with opportunities to showcase what they know - or, in some cases, what they do not know - is invaluable teacher information.
For example, giving a formative assessment - say, a mid-chapter checkpoint - can tell us if students are getting the concept, or if we should be approaching it from a different perspective. Summative assessments - culminating chapter, unit, or year exams/tests - show us how instruction may need to be altered for the next year.
Examinations are ways for us to drive our instructions - tools for continuing or altering teaching - and they give students the tools to be responsible for their own learning. We have to teach responsibility; it does not come naturally to the majority of students.
As a long time teacher at several levels of education, it would be lovely to have the students come to class for the sake of learning. To know that the students were there because they desired to gain all of the knowledge that you had to offer them would be the best of all worlds for both teacher and students.
Unfortunately in America at least, this is not the case. In high school, a good per centage of the students go to class because they are made to go by officials and parents. Their purpose there is to get a grade and move on. If a student likes a particular subject, he may work and learn for the sake of learning. However, this does not always happen when the student likes the material.
At the college level where students have to pay for classes, expectations might be different. This is not the case; in fact, many times the student just wants to eek by with a "c" and survive the course.
What is my point? If you do not have some kind of examination to gauge the learning of a student and to force him to study, he more often then not will do nothing in the class.
Having been in classes where the professor only required attendance to complete the class, students slept and sneaked out of the class. Nothing was learned or accomplished.
I wish it were possible to do without tests, but unless something changes, they will be required.
My district is reverting back to "mastery learning." That means that for each and every standard listed in the core curriculum, each student must prove that he or she has mastered the concept on a scale of 4. If a student scores a 3 or a 4, that means that he/she is "proficient" with that standard. If a student scores a 1 or a 2, then interventions need to be made for that student to become proficient in that standard. The problem is, there are so many standards, and so many that overlap in different assignments, that it is very difficult to accomplish this task in a timely manner without a basic test that narrows all of the standards down to one or two questions.
I am not sure what kind of examinations you mean, but there needs to be something. I do think that the traditional method of multiple choice tests is not the best way. We should have a variety, so students can show their strengths.
It is important to have examinations in schools. If you do not have examinations that are standard across the country, how will you know if schools are teaching students what they need to learn? Without exams, some schools could be letting students pass easily without learning much. Therefore, exams are needed so all schools will have to meet the same high standards.