Saturday, May 9, 2009

Test Time!

It's that time of year again. The 'official' state testing of our students begins this week. One test...on one day...for each subject...will be used to determine how well we have taught our students the grade-level standards this year. Of course, we don't get the results until late summer, which does absolutely nothing to help this year's students. Money and jobs are dependent on good test scores. It's a system that makes absolutely no sense to me. My personal feeling is that if I have helped my students develop a love for learning and a desire to make a positive impact on the world around them, then I don't care what they score on a standardized multiple-choice test. Life does not present its problems with potential answers labelled A, B, C, or D. Life presents problems which require independent thinking, creative problem-solving techniques, and no single right answer. If one of my students becomes an auto mechanic and someone brings in a car that is not operating properly, there will be no printout which states: A) the PCV valve is defective, B) the fuel filter may be clogged, C) possible vacuum leak, or D) faulty sensor.

I have not heard or read a single reason that supports the heavy emphasis that is placed on mandated testing. Imagine what would happen if any of the highly-compensated professional athletes had their future contracts determined by a single performance at the end of the season. What if they were told that it doesn't matter what they did all year...that because they failed to excel during a single game, they would not have a job the following season. What an uproar that would cause! It would be the leading story for every news venue. Yet, that is what we are telling our students and our teachers. This one test...on this one an accurate measure of the success of the entire school year. How can anyone continue to support this type of testing?

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