I hate how focused so many schools are on standardized testing. These tests are often the focus of the teaching in the classroom for most of the year. The teachers feel the pressure from the administration. The administrators feel the pressure from the state. Somewhere along the line someone got the idea stuck in their head that performance on standardized tests directly correlated to the life the test taker would have. If you fail the test, you will fail at life and only passing the test will ensure that you have a successful life.
Tests do no predict future success
As a student I actually kind of liked these tests. I was a good test taker. It was fun to get done fairly quickly and read my favorite book of the moment while everyone else finished. These test made me feel good, the results usually said I was above grade level and I loved hearing that praise! I never really thought about what it was like for the kids that didn’t have such great results. We weren’t supposed to talk about the results with our friends, but some of us did. You could often tell who didn’t do so well, they never wanted to talk about their results. Luckily when I was in school these tests didn’t have a huge impact on our every day class time.
I am still connected to many people that I went to school with. I was in a very small school form my first 8 years of school and everyone knew who struggled and who didn’t. Rarely did those tests correlate with the life outcomes of the test taker. So many people that I know struggled in school have very successful and happy lives. They have great jobs, wonderful families and are awesome people. Those things were not looked at, nor reflected on those tests.
How do you define success?
I know many people think a successful life is one of a high paying job and respect from colleagues. I agree that respect is a great thing, but success should not be defined by how much money you make. Success should be defined by how you help others. How do you improve the lives of those around you? Do you spread kindness and understanding? Do you help solve problems? I’m not saying traditional education is not important, it’s just not everything. We need highly academic achievers to solve some problems, but we also need highly compassionate people to solve other problems. We need excellent care givers, seekers of justice, people to seek out the isolated and help them connect. Where would we be without artists, musicians, athletes, explorers, risk takers, carers of the earth? Many of these things are not on a test.
Check out this post that references many studies that back up the claim that test results do not accurately predict future success.
Testing Week adds too much stress
ILEARN testing is coming soon. I just wish that if we have to have these standardized tests that the schools could stop making such a big deal about them. Not blaming the teachers, they don’t get to control how the results are used, but we get asked to do all these special things during the testing week & then are asked to make sure the gets don’t get too anxious. We are to make encouraging posters for our kids, feed them a good breakfast (as if they don’t eat the rest of the year.) The students are allowed mints (to help remember), homework is lessened that week (YAY!). BUT, the kids know this is a big deal & this all adds to the stress! “Back in my day”, we took the tests, read a book if we got done early & that was that. It just seems like such mixed messages to the kids & it’s such a poor representation of what many kids can do & are capable of!
According to a study by the National Bureau of Economic research (find more info here) added stress can result in lower test scores. So making it such a big deal can cause test scores to be lower.
Let teachers teach!
If teachers were actually able to have manageable class sizes and appropriate materials they would be able to meet the needs of more students. If they did not have to worry about prepping kids for tests they would have so much more time to help kids figure out how they learn and teach them in ways that are most beneficial to them. Everyone gets stressed out about these tests and they prove NOTHING!
Did you know that in some states (maybe all, but I haven’t investigated everywhere,) You can “opt out” of standardized testing? Schools don’t usually like this because they need to have a certain percentage of students take and pass the tests to receive certain funding or scores. Maybe if we all opted out they would stop making them so vital. I hope that soon we can get rid of these tests. Until then, go easy on your kids, opt out if it causes too much stress, and pray for the students and teachers to remember that this is not an accurate picture of your worth!