Thursday, January 31, 2008

Barack Obama - An Inspiration

The Obama movement is getting more and more exciting for me. I don't know how I, as a foreigner to this country, can also feel the enthusiasm and am so engaged with the process in this US presidential election. I feel that I would like to join the rally and march for change, and get involved in this movement. Is the enthusiasm that is spreading all over the US similar to the one during the 1960s? I believe they are not identical, nevertheless, the similar sense of hope, possibilities, inspiration for a new chapter is very strong, and that might be similar to the 1960s. It feels emotional too to sense this effort to bring diverse folks together for a common purpose. It is amazing and electrifying. Obama is indeed a rare talent. He has inspired me as well. He has inspired me to be fired up and ready to be involved in transforming the world. It is a cause for all of us, to heal the world, and make it a better place.

Friday, January 18, 2008

On complexity of teaching, the importance of context, and teacher education

"Because teaching is complex, and contexts vary, teachers themselves need to make decisions and reflect on their situations and teaching in order to act appropriately in their classrooms....the focus [of teacher education and staff development] is on developing ways of thinking and exposing teachers to many different strategies."
Virginia Richardson and Peggy Placier (2001)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Standardized testing in Indonesian secondary education: An analysis on the impact of national exit exam (2005-2007)

By: Iwan Syahril

The History of Standardized Testing in the Indonesia
Standardized testing has long been the dominant feature in the education system in the Republic of Indonesia. Furqon (2004) explains that in the period of 1965-1971 the Ujian Negara (State exam) was done for almost all subjects for students at the end of each of the school level, elementary, middle school and high school. Although, a non-standardized testing policy was endorsed for the next seven years, where schools were given the authority to design and hold the final exam based on the guidelines from the central government, in 1980 Indonesia went back to the centralized exam system. The Evaluasi Belajar Tahap Akhir Nasional (National Final Learning Evaluation), commonly shortened as Ebtanas, was implemented for twenty-one years.

The fall of the authoritarian government in 1998 breathed some new air of reform in all sectors of development in Indonesia, including education. The initial reform effort in education touched a number of issues, such as decentralized education system, school-based management, competence-based curriculum, and portfolio-based assessment. There was a strong consideration to abolish the nation-wide standardized testing. The new form of nation-wide standardized exam was called Ujian Akhir Nasional (National Final Examination), popular with the acronym UAN. The subjects tested were Indonesian language, English, and math. It was up to the schools and provinces to decide whether or not they required students to take final tests on other subjects.

Initially the passing grade was 3.01 out of 10.0. As everything was running as expected in 2004 the Ministry of Education decided to raise the minimum threshold for the passing to 4.01. This decision faced strong opposition form many parents and teachers, because they feared it would be too difficult for a great number of students to obtain the minimum of 4.01 for all three subjects. This concern turned out to be the truth. Shocked by the unexpectedly poor results, the Ministry of Education reacted quickly by drawing a conversion table, to many people’s surprise, to equalize the achievements of students. Heavily criticized as introducing a great element of gross injustice in scoring, this system had students who answered more than half of the test questions correctly see their final scores lowered in order to subsidize the ones who did very poorly on the tests, who later their scores improved.

Under the new cabinet in 2005, the new Ministry of Education was still determined to conduct the similar form of tests, which was given a new name, Ujian Nasional (National Examination), shortened as UN. Despite heavy criticisms for the previous UAN, UN still uses the same format, testing three subjects, math, Indonesian language and English to students at the end of their senior year in middle school and high school. Moreover, UN raises the new minimum threshold, from 4.01 to 4.51, which spread more terror to many of teachers, school principals, and parents, who still have vivid images of what happened in the previous year. To make it even more intimidating, UN is used as one of the decisive criteria to graduate high school. In short, failure to achieve the minimum threshold in UN will automatically result in failure to graduate high school, regardless the student’s overall performance during their school years.

This paper explores various impacts of the current national exit examination (UN). More specifically, it focuses on the impacts it has on some aspects of secondary education, such as the student’s life, teacher’s life, and school administrators’ life.

Research Questions
The decision of the current government administration to raise the stake of the national exit examination has raised harsh criticisms from many fronts. Not only that it is considered as a re-centralization policy, but the requirement of passing the national exam to graduate has caused a lot of problems for many students, teachers, and school administrators. In 2005, 30% or 400,000 out 1.9 million senior and vocational school students failed the national exam (Sampoerna Foundation, 2006). Some high schools even had 0% passing rate. Unlike the failing students in 2005, the ones in 2006 were not given the chance for a remedial test. Despite the number decreased significantly to less than 10%, these students were only allowed to take the equivalency test, called ujian persamaan paket C. If they pass, they can get a high school diploma, which unfortunately holds a lower status than the regular one. This situation has made the national exit exam as the main focus for many elements in the secondary education in Indonesia at the present time.

This research aims to answer the following questions.
1. What are the main reasons behind the implementation of the current Indonesian national exit examination?
2. What impacts does it have on students’ life, teachers’ life, classroom life, and school life?
3. Whose interests does the exam serve?


The rationale of the policymakers
The Ministerial Decree no 34/2007 stipulates that the main goal of the national exit examination is to evaluate the graduates’ competence achievement nationwide for certain subjects in the groups of science and technology. The results of the exams will be used as one of the considerations to map education and education program, filter (students) for further education, decide student graduation, and supervise and assist education units for quality improvement (Badan Standar Nasional Pendidikan, 2007).

According to the central Ministry of Education, the decision to implement the national exit examination in its current format has been supported by six studies. Interestingly, there is a strong assumption from the top policymakers that students and teachers have not worked hard enough, and the pressure of having to perform well in the national exams will motivate them to improve their performance. From the data, it is quite clear that the hidden rationale for the top policymakers in using the national exam is to motivate the students and teachers to work harder, because they have been blamed for their laziness which resulted in the low standing of Indonesia in the international ranking.

The impacts on students
The data shows that the major impact of the national exit examination is serious psychological problems suffered by many middle school and high school students. It seems that students have become even more stressed since 2006 when the government decided to eliminate the option for remedial test. It is not surprising that some reaction of this stress can be quite destructive. In general, there is a strong sense that students fear to fail the national exams that they force themselves to study for the tests as hard as possible.

The impacts on teachers
The huge pressure and the high-stakeness of the national exit examination as one of the decisive requirement for student graduation have made teachers less motivated to be creative and innovative in designing their lessons. What is perceived as more important to teach is the skills to answer the multiple-choice pencil-and-paper tests. In addition, the huge gap between the capability needed to implement the policy and the reality in the field has added a huge psychological problem to the under-paid, under-resourced, and under-qualified teachers. This situation has probably made many teachers, usually coordinated by their school administrators, choose to take the short cut in solving the improbable task. Some teachers reported the cheating practices involving school principals and the local officials of the Ministry of Education. Ironically, they have to face bitter realities by unfair treatment by their administrators who were involved in the cheating practices. Teachers who reported the cheating practices were treated like criminals, by being threatened, dismissed, or jailed.

The impacts on school administrators
It is obvious that the decision of making the national exit exam as the graduation requirement has made school administrators reallocate their school resources to support the test preparation. Due to serious lack of capacity - yet the exam results determine school ranking, extra funding, and local government administration performance - many school administrators have been reported to orchestrate cheating practices in a number of places.

The main concern of the government, which has been repeatedly said by the Vice President, Jusuf Kalla, is to have a standardized quality education system, which they believe can be achieved through the national exam. The assumption of standardized tests, where everyone gets the equal and fair opportunity to demonstrate what has been previously learned, might serve the government’s goal. Moreover, it is claimed that standardized tests are designed, administered, and scored in the same fashion. This seems to resonate well with what Vice President mentioned regarding the importance of applying the same norm and procedure in all regencies in Indonesia in order to develop Indonesian people together (Portal Nasional Republik Indonesia, 2007).

It should not be so surprising that the kind of learning that happens in the classroom are similar to the assumptions of the behavioral psychology’s ones mentioned by Oakes and Lipton (2007), where learning happens through transmitting bits of information. Teachers have been discouraged to teach in engaging and meaningful ways. Lessons are geared towards memorizing the information needed to answer the multiple-choice paper-and pencil exams. Students do excessive amount of drilling for test practices. In many cases, this kind of learning does not stop in schools. Students, even the brightest ones, feel compelled to attend tutoring institutions, where they continue to receive the test-driven drills.

For this matter, the tutoring institutions gain the most benefit, because they will get a lot of customers, who desperately need the security to get rid of the fear of failing the exam. It is no surprise that the influence of tutoring institutions has become more dominant in the landscape of Indonesian education system. They have become government partners in helping students to succeed in their academic life.

The attitude shown by the Coordinating Minister of People’s Welfare, Aburizal Bakrie, where having failed students is as a sign of the properly working system, is similar to the assumption of the bell curve in standardize system. In bell curve logic, the majority of the participants will get average score, while only some of them get either high or low scores. However, at the two extremes of the curve, few will have to either do extremely well, or do extremely poorly. The later one usually refers to failure. This has been the criticism to standardized testing, where some participants are pre-determined to fail.

The national exit examination fits the description of the high-stakes testing suggested by Janesick (2001), where the consequences of the test scores are extremely serious. I would argue that these consequences are burdened not only to students, but also to teachers and school administrators. For students, even if they have performed extremely well in school and have gained prestigious recognitions of their potentials and talents, failure to reach the minimum threshold of any of the national exit exams will automatically shut their door to step further. This has caused a major stress to the life of practically every student in the secondary education in Indonesia, even the brightest ones. The common way of dealing with this stressful situation is by attending tutoring institutions to have practice drills as often as possible.

The teachers and school administrators have no choice but to comply and deal with the current format of national examination. The have been reportedly very stressed with the pressure of making their students reach at least the required minimum threshold for all of the exams. In fact, the pressure can be a lot bigger because the exam scores are used as the symbol for prestige for the administrators. They are used as the criteria to determine good quality schools, either by the ministry of education, or by the general public. They are very competitive about the ranking of their schools, and will often do whatever it takes to achieve maximum results. Thus, the consequences of students’ exam scores also determine the life of the teachers and administrators.

When almost half of the Indonesian teaching force are under-qualified, and the government is only able to cover 6.5 % of the funding needed to build the education system, the pressure has seemed to force teachers and administrators to take short-cuts to ensure that their goals are achieved. The serious incapacity to achieve the target results has frustrated many teachers and administrators that they have decided to use unethical practices to solve their problem. There are a number of manipulative acts during the exams that have been reported in different locations every year. To make it even worse, the teachers who reported the cheating practices were the ones who received the intimidation, and some of them were even dismissed from their schools. So far, the government seems to be very slow to respond to the reports of unfair practices during the national exam. Even the top policymakers, who should have the huge interest in keeping the trustworthiness of the exam, do seem to consider these reports seriously. This has sent the message that these practices to some extent can be tolerated.

The national exit examination has caused some seriously damaging impacts to the secondary education in Indonesia. Students, even the brightest ones, feel fearful that they will jeopardize their future plans by scoring one point less than the required minimum threshold in any given exams. Teachers are forced to sacrifice their creative, innovative, meaningful, and engaging lessons to allow time for students to practice the test drills. School administrators have to reallocate resources to meet the test-driven demands, even by partnering with external tutoring institutions to help the students obtain the skills needed to pass the test.

In addition, the huge gap between the needed capacity and the actual capability of schools to meet the demands of the national exit examination has resulted in serious psychological distress. There have been a high frequency of reports from the data that students are very worried and stressed. Some of them expressed their frustration through destructive acts, such as burning school buildings and committing suicides. A number of teachers and school administrators have to give up their professional ethics, by facilitating cheating during the exams, which in some cases involved the officials of the local Ministry of Education.

With the current format, the national exam will do a lot more damage to the secondary education life in Indonesia. The only parties that benefit from it are the government’s top policymakers who have a sense of accomplishment with the improved test scores, and the tutoring institutions who will get the financial benefit from the stress suffered by students, teachers, and administrators.

Despite the heavy criticisms from many authoritative scholars, the government seems to continue their stubborn attitude in regards to national exit examination. The top policymakers, such as the Vice President, the Minister of Education and the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare have repeatedly insisted on the importance of the national exit examination as the tool to motivate Indonesian students and teachers to work hard. They seem to believe that the improved test scores directly correlate with the better quality of education, thus will improve Indonesian ranking in international assessment.

In the mean time, teachers, students, parents, administrators will have to continue to be stressed out by the national exit examination. Perhaps, after the coming Indonesian general election in 2009, with some new top policymakers, there will be some hope to change the direction of the education policy in Indonesia, particularly the national exit examination. For now unless an organized and persistent massive movement is done to change the direction of the current educational policy throughout the country, we will keep hearing the similar stories at least for the next three years.

I would like to end by repeating a quote from what Darling-Hammond (1994), “…the use of tests as a sole determinant of graduation imposes heavy personal and societal costs, without obvious social benefits.” I think this is very true in Indonesian context, especially with the current national examination, which has resulted in extremely damaging costs, not only for the students, the teachers, and the school administrators, but also for the society in general, because Indonesia is losing the chance to provide the quality education for its future generation. It is indeed a huge damaging cost for Indonesia.

Menggugat Tes Kecerdasan, Standardized Testing, dan Sekolah Unggul*

Pendidikan haruslah berlaku adil terhadap semua bentuk kecerdasan, karena semua bentuk kecerdasan bisa membawa kesuksesan jika dipupuk dan dikembangkan dengan baik dan secara berkelanjutan. Pakar psikologi dari Harvard University yang dikenal luas di bidang pendidikan, Professor Howard Gardner, menjelaskan bahwa kecerdasan didefinisikan sebagai sebuah kemampuan untuk memecahkan masalah dalam kehidupan nyata, atau menciptakan sebuah produk atau jasa yang dihargai dalam sebuah kebudayaan. Dengan teori kecerdasan majemuknya (multiple intelligences), ia membantah anggapan bahwa kecerdasan merupakan sebuah entitas tunggal yang pasti dan didapat secara turun temurun. Masing-masing bentuk kebudayaan memiliki bentuk-bentuk kecerdasan yang mendapat penekanan yang lebih besar. Lahirnya teori kecerdasan majemuk ini menggugat asumsi-asumsi tes kecerdasan yang ada sebelumnya, seperti halnya tes IQ. Dari perspektif historis, tes IQ yang kita kenal sekarang bersumber pada asumsi mendasar yang malah bertentangan dengan klaim objektivitas, validitas dan reliabilitas. Sebagai contoh, tes IQ mengandung bias dan cenderung diskriminatif. Selain klaim bahwa pria lebih unggul daripada wanita, asumsi yang terpelihara adalah ras Anglo-Saxon merupakan ras yang paling unggul dibanding ras-ras lainnya.

Menurut H H Goddard, ahli psikologi yang pertama kali membawa tes IQ ke Amerika Serikat, keunggulan ini bersifat turun menurun. Namun permasalahan sebenarnya ada pada saat perancangan tes, di mana item-item yang dipilih dalam tes kecerdasan tersebut yang merupakan hal-hal yang sangat familiar dalam konteks kebudayaan para pembuat tes, namun belum tentu untuk kebudayaan lainnya. Logika sederhananya adalah mereka yang lebih familiar dengan item-item tes tentunya akan dapat menjawab dengan lebih mudah dan akurat. Tes-tes kecerdasan ini membawa pengaruh besar terhadap berbagai cara perancangan standardized testing yang kita kenal sekarang. Formatnya tes-tes ini sangat menguntungkan bentuk kecerdasan linguistik, kecerdasan logika, dan kecerdasan visual, dan tidak menguntungkan bentuk-bentuk kecerdasan lainnya, seperti kecerdasan intrapersonal, intrapersonal, kinestetik, naturalist, dan musik-ritmik. Tes IQ dan tes-tes keturunannya ternyata bias dan diskriminatif. Namun ironisnya, justru tes-tes seperti inilah yang sering digunakan sebagai penentu nasib siswa. Misalnya dalam fenomena sekolah unggulan dan non unggulan, tes-tes (biasanya matematika dan bahasa) seperti ini sering dijadikan sebagai alat penentu dalam pengelompokan para siswa ke dalam kategori unggulan dan non unggulan.

Ada dua argumen utama yang ingin saya sampaikan. Pertama, kebanyakan siswa yang dikategorikan unggul adalah siswa yang lebih dipersiapkan dalam menghadapi tes-tes yang ada, bukan berarti mereka benar-benar unggul. Di tengah semakin menguatnya rezim-rezim ujian dan maraknya les dan bimbingan belajar, maka anak-anak dari keluarga mampu secara ekonomi akan mendapat persiapan yang jauh lebih baik daripada anak-anak dari keluarga kurang mampu, yang sudah kewalahan hanya untuk membayar segala macam biaya pendidikan di sekolah .

Kedua, ujian akhir, sebagai representasi dari standardized testing, seperti halnya Ujian Nasional, hanya memberikan potret sekilas dari sebagian kecil performa siswa. Berdasarkan teori kecerdasan majemuk, diperlukan comprehensive assessment. Berbagai riset telah membuktikan bahwa banyak anak yang cenderung lebih bisa memperlihatkan pemahaman terhadap sebuah konsep dengan pendekatan yang berbeda, seperti dengan melakukan investigasi, presentasi dan kolaborasi. Karena itu, sudah waktunya kita perlu untuk medekonstruksi pemahaman kita tentang apa itu cerdas, apa itu unggul. Karena asumsi dan cara penentuan kecerdasan dan keunggulan ternyata tidak seobjektif yang kita asumsikan. Demikian pula halnya dengan konsep sekolah unggulan dan non-unggulan. Dikotomi dan label yang menurut saya menyesatkan dan sangat diskriminatif dan menimbulkan luka psikologis yang dalam pada siswa yang mendapat label-label inferior, yang perlu waktu lama untuk sembuh, jika pun memang akhirnya sembuh.

Ironisnya, sekolah-sekolah unggulan cenderung memiliki fasilitas dan guru-guru yang lebih bagus, sehingga memiliki kualitas pembelajaran yang relatif jauh lebih baik daripada sekolah-sekolah non-unggulan. Sementara dengan fasilitas dan kualitas guru yang seadanya, ekspektasi yang rendah terjadi diberikan untuk anak-anak yang bukan unggulan tersebut. Sistem yang ada sepertinya sudah putus harapan kepada mereka. Sebuah kenyataan pahit, anak-anak yang jauh lebih membutuhkan sarana dan prasarana belajar yang bagus untuk mengejar ketertinggalannya, justru semakin terpuruk dengan perlakuan sistem terhadap mereka. Sudahlah jatuh, tertimpa tangga pula. Kesenjangan yang tercipta pun akan semakin melebar. Ini adalah isu keadilan sosial, isu keberpihakan. Bukankah sila ke-5 Pancasila dalam konteks pendidikan akan berbunyi, ‘Keadilan sosial (pendidikan) bagi seluruh (siswa) Indonesia? Bukan cuma siswa dari keluarga mampu, atau siswa yang karena skema yang ada terkategorikan ‘unggul’, melainkan seluruh siswa Indonesia!

Pendidikan haruslah berkeadilan dalam memfasilitasi semua potensi yang ada, termasuk mengembalikan dan mengembangkan rasa percaya diri dan memberi keadilan sosial bagi para siswa yang termarginalkan, dalam mengeluarkan sejumlah potensi yang ada dalam diri mereka, yang barangkali tidak pernah tergali, disadari, dan diapresiasi oleh sistem pendidikan yang ada. Semua potensi ini sama layaknya untuk dibina dan dikembangkan karena semuanya berpotensi untuk memajukan bangsa dan negara kita. Meminjam definisi kecerdasan dari Howard Gardner, maka pembelajaran seharusnya diarahkan pada pengembangan kemampuan untuk memecahkan masalah-masalah nyata, bukan memrioritaskan kepada kemampuan menjawab soal-soal ujian. Hal ini mensyaratkan siswa untuk berlatih menyampaikan suara mereka melalui pembelajaran dalam iklim demokratis yang menekankan kemampuan berpikir kritis, analitis, kreatif dan solutif. Karena itu, yang kita inginkan adalah semua putra putri bangsa Indonesia bisa ‘bicara’ dalam semua ranah kecerdasan. Tugas kita semua untuk memfasilitasi dan memberi dorongan secara berkelanjutan dan sungguh-sungguh.

*Tulisan ini pernah dimuat dalam harian Kedaulatan Rakyat, 21 November 2007.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Tinjau Ulang Ujian Nasional!

Dengan keterbatasan kemampuan kapasitas yang ada pada sistem pendidikan kita maka tidak realistis ada pengharapan yang begitu tinggi terhadap hasil belajar seperti yang diharapkan pada Ujian Nasional kita saat ini. Utamanya, para guru kita tidak memiliki kualitas yang diperlukan untuk dapat membantu siswa mencapai hasil yang diinginkan. Hal ini disebabkan oleh beberapa faktor. Pertama, input dari sumber daya yang masuk dalam barisan pengajar biasanya kelompok yang gagal bersaing. Kesimpulan ini tentu tidak berlaku secara umum, namun salah satu indikatornya adalah ketika tes masuk perguruan tinggi, maka siswa-siswa yang dikategorikan unggul akan cenderung memilih bidang lainnya sebelum memasukkan sekolah kependidikan di dalam pilihan mereka. Hal ini juga bisa disebabkan oleh rendahnya reward secara sosial dan finansial yang diterima oleh para guru, yang menimbulkan keengganan untuk memasuki profesi ini. Proses pembelajaran di sekolah kependidikan tidaklah membantu banyak dalam membentuk tenaga kependidikan yang berkualitas tinggi, dikarenakan kurikulum yang masih kurang berorientasi kepada kenyataan dilapangan serta terbatasnya sarana dan prasarana yang dapat membantu mahasiswa sekolah kependidikan untuk menjadi sumber daya berkualitas unggul.

Kedua, setelah menjadi tenaga pengajar pun, para guru tidak mendapatkan dukungan untuk dapat belajar secara berkelanjutan. Terbatasnya dana, sarana dan prasaarana serta ketiadaan budaya belajar menjadi penyebab utama mengapa para guru cenderung tidak mengalami banyak peningkatan dalam keterampilan mengajar dan pengetahuan terhadap apa yang diajarkan. Pelatihan-pelatihan yang ada jumlahnya sangat sedikit, dan jikapun ada, tidak begitu relevan dengan kondisi yang ada di lapangan. Gaji yang kurang mencukupi membuat para guru bekerja serabutan sana sini demi memenuhi kebutuhan yang makin mahal. Rendahnya kualifikasi guru terlihat dari data Diknas terakhir yang menunjukkan bahwa 46% guru SMA tidak memenuhi persyaratan untuk mengajar, dengan indikator lulusan S1.

Dari faktor non-guru, kita bisa melihat sendiri bahwa sekolah-sekolah yang ada tidak dilengkapi dengan sarana dan prasarana yang bagus untuk mendapatkan hasil yang diharapkan. Bangunan2 sekolah banyak yang sudah perlu direnovasi. Perpustakaan, sebagai salah satu sarana dasar yang paling vital, yang sudah semakin dijauhi siswa karena koleksi buku-buku yang tidak menarik, serta minimnya teroboson ide dari para guru untuk memberdayakan siswa memanfaatkan koleksi yang ada. Sekolah terkesan apa adanya. Data menunjukkan bahwa pemerintah hanya mampu membiayai 6% dari total dana yang dibutuhkan untuk menjalankan sistem pendidikan yang bagus. Lucunya pemerintah enggan memenuhi mandat UUD 1945 tentang alokasi anggaran minimal 20% untuk bidang pendidikan, dengan berbagai alasan.

Ini menyimpulkan bahwa dunia pendidikan kita memiliki kapasitas yang sangat rendah dalam memenuhi tuntutan kurikulum dan asumsi dari ujian nasional.

Faktor lain yang menjadi masalah adalah ujian nasional itu sendiri, sebagai instrumen evaluasi proses pembelajaran yang sangat menentukan. Pak Jusuf Kalla pernah mengatakan bahwa yang namanya sekolah pasti ada ujian. Benar sekali tentunya. Namun pertanyaan kita kemudian adalah ujian seperti apa yang kita perlukan agar dapat mencapai kualitas yang tinggi. Sayangnya jawabannya bukan merujuk pada ujian dengan cara menjawab soal pilihan berganda yang dikerjakan selama dua jam. Dunia pendidikan memiliki banyak cara evaluasi yang lebih baik daripada cara klasik ujian dengan kertas dan pensil tersebut. Contoh-contohnya berserakan ada pada paradigma continuous assessment dan authentic assessment.

Argumen sentralnya terletak pada dampak cara evaluasi terhadap proses pembelajaran. Semua orang pasti akan setuju bahwa cara evaluasi dengan menggunakan soal pilihan berganda selama dua jam akan menjadikan pembelajaran yang cenderung diarahkan kepada strategi menjawab soal-soal ujian. Coba saja kita refleksi dari pengalaman kita pribadi! Soal-soal ujian dari tahun-tahun sebelumnya dikumpulkan dan para siswa berlatih menjawab soal-soal tersebut. Bahkan jika memungkinkan dikembangkan rumus jitu yang dapat membuat siswa menjawab soal dengan cermat dan akurat tanpa memahami benar apa yang ditanyakan. Yang penting adalah kemampuan untuk dapat menjawab soal ujian dengan cepat dan tepat. Masalah paham atau tidak paham, serta keterampilan terhadap bidang studi yang diajarkan merupakan urusan belakangan. Yang penting siswa dapat menjawab soal ujian dengan baik dan memperoleh nilai yang tinggi dan membanggakan. Pembelajaran pun diarahkan kepada hafalan-hafalan yang merupakan potongan-potongan informasi yang terpisah-pisah yang diperlukan untuk menjawab pertanayan soal ujian.

Barangakali sebagai contoh yang barangkali dapat dipahami oleh kita semua, tentang perbedaan antara pembelajaran yang menekankan pada proses dan pada hasil, mari kita lihat pada pendidikan moral yang ada di sekolah kita. Dahulu kita mengenal yang namanya PMP Pendidikan Moral Pancasila, yang sekarang telah diganti dengan PPKN. Betapa banyak siswa yang dapat menguasai hafalan yang diberikan, namun apakah ini mencerminkan kualitas moral yang ada? Masih ingatkah kita pada penataran P4 yang di jaman Orde baru sangat dilembagakan? Apa yang dilakukan pada saat itu? Para peserta ditatar, diajak menghafal tanpa berproses terhadap isi dari Pancasila, UUD 1945 dan GBHN dan aspek-aspek kwarnegaraan. Apa hasilnya? Adakah peningkatan moral pada bangsa kita? Tidak!!! Malah kita menjadi salah satu negara sarang korupsi yang paling hebat di dunia. Kenapa? Apa yang gagal? Karena kita hanya puas ketika melihat hasil tes yang bagus, namun tidak memandang penting kualitas proses yang terjadi di dalamnya. Kita tertipu oleh hasil tes yang bagus, dan kita sepertinya tetap menjadikan diri kita tertipu semakin jauh dengan ujian nasional.

Nilai-nilai ujian yang bagus tidak senantiasa menunjukkan kualitas yang bagus. Yang perlu dilihat adalah proses yang terjadi menuju evaluasi. Pembelajaran dengan menitikberatkan kepada hafalan-hafalan mati dari potongan-potongan informasi yang ada merupakan pembelajaran tingkat rendah. Yang kita butuhkan adalah pembelajaran yang menekankan kepada terciptanya budaya berpikir kritis dan kemampuan analisa yang tajam yang mengarah pada solusi terhadap maslah-masalah yang ada pada kehidupan nyata.

Hal ini membutuhkan peningkatan kualitas guru karena hampir semua guru yang ada tidak pernah mengalami pembelajaran seperti yang dibutuhkan untuk menjawab tantangan jaman di abad ke-21. Pembelajaran yang berorientasi kepada tes dan hasil tes akan menghasilkan kualitas proses belajar yang sangat rendah, yang sangat tidak kita harapkan dalam memacu peningkatan kualitas SDM negara kita dalam menjawab tantangan jaman.

Pemerintah hendaknya perlu megevaluasi secara bijaksana dan pikiran jernih tentang kebijakan UN dan cara-cara yang lebih baik dalam mengevaluasi hasil belajar. Hendaknya apa pun kebijakan yang diberlakukan haruslah menuju kepada terciptanya budaya belajar yang berkualitas tinggi, bukan yang berkualitas ecek-ecek. Maka serahkanlah urusan pendidikan kepada ahli pendidikan, bukan pada ahli keuangan dan ahli perdagangan. Mari kita sambut pemilu 2009 dengan mata dan telinga yang seksama dalam mendengar para calon berargumen tentang masalah pendidikan. Bagi praktisi dan pemerhati pendidikan hendaklah memilih para calon yang memiliki platform pendidikan yang paling bagus, dan bukan hanya calon yang paling populer.

Iwan Syahril @The Gotesmann Library, Teachers College, Columbia University.
Jan 10, 2007. 7:03pm.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Education and democracy

"Education and democracy are linked: A strong democracy requires a thoughtful, engaged, and active citizenry, and an education that encourages critical thought, reception and resistance, participation and empowerment, will push toward a more vital and inclusive democracy." (William Ayers, 2001. To teach: The journey of a teacher. New York: Teachers College Press.)