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NEGATIVE WASHBACK OF NATIONAL EXAMINATION IN INDONESIA

By Agus Khairi - Tuesday, August 16, 2016
NEGATIVE WASHBACK OF NATIONAL EXAMINATION IN INDONESIA

by
Agus Khairi



Washback is commonly known in language assessment as a part of principles in language assessment that should be considered in administrating the test. Hughes in Brown (2004) stated washback is “the effect of testing on teaching and learning”. More over Green (2013) stated that Washback refers to the impact that a test has on the teaching and learning done in preparation for it. The influences can be appeared in teaching and learning process in the classroom after previous test and how to face further test. The influence may positive and negative as Taylor (2005) argue that ‘washback is generally perceived as being either negative (harmful) or positive (beneficial)”. As a part of language assessment principles, washback can be appeared in formative and summative test.
National examination (UN) in Indonesia kind of summative test, which is conducted in every year, in the end of school year. Especially English National Examination, as language assessment, of course has washback in teaching and learning process whether positive or negative. “Negative washback is said to occur when a test’s content or format is based on a narrow definition of language ability, and so constrains the teaching/learning context” (Taylor, 2005). Moreover, according to Prodomou (1995, p.14) in Bedford  “overt washback is usually negative and seen in the explicit use of examination papers or examples from textbooks that emphasize the skills used in exams”. Based on the explanation can be stated the question What are National Examination negative washback? Negative washback can be seen: 1) in the way of teacher teach in classroom, 2) publisher intention in published examination oriented text-book and 3) students’ learning focus. Those three negative washback will be explained in this reflection.
First, way of teacher teach English in the classroom especially in last grade in each educational institution can be influenced by national examination that will be faced in the end of the school year. It was as negative washback affected by national examination as final test held by government, in this case National education Ministry. Teacher tends to teach what will be tested in national examination rather than the completely basic competences that should be taught in the last grade. Graduate basic competence (SKL) delivered by BNSP each year become guidance for teacher in teaching English and ignored some basic competences, especially speaking. Taylor (2005) argued “teachers will be influenced by the knowledge that their students are planning to take a certain test and will adapt their teaching methodology and lesson content to reflect the test’s demands.” Even though there are extra times that provide by school management to prepare national examination. The way of teacher teaches tend to national examination material become phenomenon, generally in schools, that was considered as national examination negative washback.
Second, national examination (UN) negative washback also can be seen in books are published tend to examination-oriented. The contents of the book provide materials intents to how to solve or answer questions provided in UN. The book is not provided to fulfill teachers or students need in learning English completely related to basic competences. Pearson in Cheng (1997) “points out that examinations are commonly used as levers for change. In those cases, textbooks will be designed to match the purposes of a new test.” It is commonly happen in our place that many books are provided national examination prediction test as exercise and the last previous national examination test. It was extremely clear that national examination influence how the book publisher provide books that tend to provide material for national examination rather than basic competences.
Third, National Examination negative washback for students is how the students learn focus on. They tend to learn focus on material test oriented based on what teachers’ instruction taken from SKL UN. It is negative washback because focus on learning material test oriented make students ignore other materials and suppose those are not important. It is related to Hughes in Green (2013) “suggested that washback should only be anticipated where participants are motivated to succeed on the test.” Test can change the aim of students learn the material in their classroom because of their intention to focus learn about national examination material. It is different with other tests that have certain purpose, for instance placement test, selection test for certain position etc. Of course, it can not be categorized as negative washback when the test-takers focus learn about those kinds of test only. While, national examination is aimed to test whole process of learning process in each level educational institution. So, it is called negative washback when students focus on learning about materials that will be tested in national examination.
National examination in it applying to each level educational institution may cause positive and negative washback. Negative washback can be seen in three of these; the way of teacher teaches in the classroom, publisher and focus students’ learning provide books on test-oriented. Those are caused teaching and learning process no longer orient to basic competences provided by government but rather than test-oriented, how to achieve scores for passing the national examination. It can be said that the students’ learning process is score-oriented. Thus, it can be concluded that many negative washback of national examination can be found in teaching and learning process and its supporting things.                           

Bedford, J. Washback – the Effect of Assessment on ESOL Teaching and Learning.
Brown, H. D. (2004). assessment: Principles and classroom practices. New York: Pearson Education.
Cheng, L. (1997). How Does Washback Influence Teaching? Implications for Hong Kong. Language and Education, 11(1), 17. doi: 10.1080/09500789708666717
Green, A. (2013). Washback in language assessment. International Journal of English Studies, 13(2), 13.

Taylor, L. (2005). Washback and impact. ELT Journal, 59, 2. doi:10.1093/eltj/cci030