Did you come here from Why doesn’t your son go to a real school? – if not you may want to read that.
Consider real life: How often, at work or just in normal conversations with others are you given test experiences. Most of the time you’re not. Your boss doesn’t say, “What will you do to solve this finance problem? A. Nothing; B. Make a new budget?; C. Ask Fred what to do?; D. Crunch those numbers again?” This doesn’t happen. You’re expected to give an insightful answer, one much longer than a test answer. The best jobs expect even more – they want you to think outside the box for a very creative answer. Tests do not encourage thinking outside the box. Tests just aren’t that realistic.
Furthermore, much of school now, thanks to No Child Left Behind, consists of standardized tests and getting kids ready for said tests. I’m not the only person who thinks tests mean nothing in the long-term…
Many teachers think all this testing sucks. One teacher over at the WSJ left a telling comment. This teacher says that the district thinks the best policy is to teach these kids how to take tests, using well, more tests. The teacher notes, “They get the textbook publishers’ tests, district mandated tests, and required teacher created tests in addition to those mandated by state and federal law. Children as young as five years old are subjected to an endless barrage of tests, taking time away from differentiated instruction, remediation, and enrichment.” Depressing.
An older, but excellent collection of research on testing and how it teaches nothing. Tests rank your child, they don’t teach. This is evident if you check out No Child Left Behinds’ record. Testing has helped improve little. In fact part of No Child Left Behind is an expected date by which all kids are supposed to reach proficiency (pass tests). Since this all started, they’ve had to move the dates back, because kids aren’t close to reaching proficiency (by test standards) yet.
Some background on how these tests are created by a few, for many.
Lastly, research shows that even if testing did somehow work, most tests place major emphasis on the most minimal proficiency possible – because tests must be appropriate for low and high level students. Because of this, kids who do know more, learn little new information about topics from these tests.
Speaking of No Child Left Behind:
I’m not interested in my son attending a school that follows No Child Left Behind. Yes there’s all this talk of reform, but not yet. In case you’re unclear about how No Child Left Behind works, here’s some information about it…
According to No Child Left Behind, “Under No Child Left Behind, each state must measure every public school student’s progress in reading and math in each of grades 3 through 8 and at least once during grades 10 through 12. Assessments (or testing) must be aligned with state academic content and achievement standards. [The tests] will provide parents with objective data on where their child stands academically.”
The annual tests are supposed to provide teachers with information about each child’s strengths and weaknesses, so that, “Teachers can craft lessons to make sure each student meets or exceeds the standards.” Additionally these tests allow, “Parents to know their children’s strengths and weaknesses.”
Basically No Child Left Behind expects teachers to create lessons that ensure that kids will, “Meet or exceed standards” – wouldn’t it be better if teachers were expected to create lessons that teach valuable and interesting issues? Or if teachers created lessons that expanded on kids interests? Or if the schools taught skills that might help you through life?
As for parents not knowing their child’s strengths and weaknesses without a test to tell them about it; well, that’s just sad. Do parents really need standardized test scores to tell them what their children are like? I doubt it and I hope not.
No Child Left Behind also states, “Although testing may be stressful for some students, testing is a normal and expected way of assessing what students have learned.” I don’t find tests normal as I rarely run into these sorts of tests in my adult life and it’s lame to assume they’re expected. I actually expect much more than a testing regimen for my own son. Keep in mind too, that No Child Left Behind, “Requires assessments only in the areas of reading/language arts, math and science.” It’s stated that schools can test on other topics if they wish, but this is what No Child Left Behind thinks is important enough to test kids on. Not art, not history, not geography or computer skills or political education or how to think creatively or any of the other hundreds of topics the world has to offer.