Testing Squared and Then Cubed in America and Kenya

Back in the day when I was a middle school student, I absolutely loved Mad Magazine. It helped that I had a classmate (all I remember is his first name was Howard) who looked just like the face of Mad Magazine and he was equally as devilish as what was implied in the cartoons.  Mad Magazine was great at doing things that were bad and then worse as comparative realities. It was hilarious and spot on.  I would like to carry on the Mad Magazine tradition by using testing, both in America and Kenya as my comparative realities of bad then worse. I will not tell you which is bad or worse, that if for you to sort out.

First off, if you pronounce CAHSEE  (sounds like Casey)or KCSE (literally K   C  S  E), they sound similar and it confused the hell out of me when I first moved to Kenya.

Both tests are at  the minimal level of knowledge a student/learner can have, i.e. they both come in at the bottom three levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

The KCSE is structured such that only about 15-20% of Kenyan learners who take these exams obtain scores which will allow them to go to university.  The CAHSEE exam does not help students in America get into college, rather, it is the high school exit exam to demonstrate you learned something in your K-12 experiences.

Even the good teachers in Kenya copy questions from the past KCSE exam books for learners in middle and end term exams.  In America, teachers use  computer tests with scantrons to measure if students are ready for annual spring testing.

Both American and Kenyan teachers teach to the test as that is the only thing which matters.

Both American and Kenyan teachers work to complete the overwhelming and unwieldly syllabi    ‘early’ to do test prep review.

In America, test scores can make or break a teacher. In Kenya, test scores can make or break a learner.

In America, the only test score(s) which matter are spring testing and where your school is on AYP.  In Kenya, the only test score which matters is the KCSE.

In Kenya and America, written out answers are not preferred as they take too long to mark when you have more than 30 students, which means that simplifying the grading process is simplifying the education process as this is not Ford Motor (oh, wait, even Ford Motor is not really Ford Motor of mass production right now).

Education is considered the most significant aspiration you can have in Kenya and America.

One country is a developing country…….