I am a music teacher from the USA with nearly 30 years teaching experience as a private piano instructor plus 8 years within the music classroom. Even at the earliest stages of child development, there is always some type of assessment for the teacher to have feedback of the students' knowledge and level of understanding. I was required to administer some type of quiz or test, written or oral, performance or theory, at the end of EVERY weekly classroom lesson. I've come to find out that this is not the practice here in this country. In fact, there ARE no tests, formal or informal, of any sort for students in KS1 and KS2. I find that extremely odd, because I really don't know how else to discover what level of knowledge each child has achieved without a test of some sort. I work through an external agency at a local primary school. Recently, I administered a written test for my Year 6 class as well as an oral test for my Year 4 class on the topic of musical instruments (family names and traits, features, sound qualities, types, etc). My Year 6 students were required to write their answers to the open-ended questions in full sentence form. My Year 4 students were asked to write their simple answers on a blank answer sheet after I orally read their questions to them. The answers were basically single word responses for the most part, and only one or two answers required a short phrase. In both year groups during the past four weeks, we have been discussing everything they need to know at this stage concerning instruments, and in the process they gave brilliant answers with great enthusiasm, which led me to believe that they were very prepared for a written assessment of their knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, only about half of my Year 4 students earned a passing percentage, and I have not finished marking the Year 6 exams yet. When I approached the Year 4 class with the results of their test scores, I prepared them with the idea that I was pleased to see some students did very well, but I was concerned about some students not faring so well. I attributed the undesireable results to the possibility that these students may have had test performance anxiety and could have just frozen during the exam. Others may have been confused by how the questions were worded. As I distributed the papers, some students were visibly upset over their low scores. I assured them that I would do everything in my power to help them understand their mistakes and to prevent them from happening again, whether they truly didn't know the content of the exam or if it was merely the testing process that was inhibiting to them. I shared with the administrator of my external company the reaction of the students when they received their scores, and he feels as though now we need to do some major damage control, fearing that he may soon be faced with some disgruntled parents because I have possibly damaged the self-esteem of the students. I have a real problem with that, simply because I don't believe in sugar-coating the reality of a child's learning level. Yes, every parent wants their child to do well in school and get a solid education, but if we aren't being honest about a child's true ability and learning skills as well as their level of knowledge, who does this ultimately harm? What good will become of cushioning a child's stumbling? If a child goes through life with every teacher only concerned about their self-esteem, is this really preparing them for the reality of the work force and life in general? Some of these questions may be rhetorical, but I wouldn't mind hearing the responses from other educators in this country. Most importantly, I would really appreciate hearing how I am supposed to know what my students have learned.