James Mannion

The widespread practice of high-stakes testing, compulsory for all, demands that around one-third will fail on the basis that this somehow makes the passes of others more meaningful. On this specious reasoning, every year, many thousands of young people are branded failures in the most formative years of their life, with often devastating consequences. This deeply unethical practice should be stopped in its tracks. Clearly, however, education requires that we evaluate learning – and so we need practical, workable, scalable alternatives. In Beyond the Tyranny of Testing, Gergen and Gill take us beyond the stale, technical arguments about norm-referenced vs criterion-referenced assessment, by reconceptualising education as  relational, rather than individualistic, pursuit. If we accept that education should be more explicitly relational, collaborative and inclusive – and really, who could argue against this? – we find ourselves embracing more dialogic, collaborative approaches to teaching and learning that lead us to very different kinds of assessment practices – relational evaluation. This book pulls together a wealth of tried-and-tested alternatives to high-stakes testing that chart a clear course towards a fairer, more life-affirming education system that enables young people to locate themselves in a story of interbeing, rather than one of separation. I cannot recommend it highly enough!

— Dr James Mannion, Director, Rethinking Education; Bespoke Programmes Leader, UCL Institute of Education; co-author of Fear is the Mind Killer: Why Learning to Learn deserves lesson time – and how to make it work for your pupils.