As much ridicule as testing receives from angry parents, teachers, students, and reformers, the principle behind testing is something that is very important and often neglected within schools and policy. As it stands today, most tests are used for competition whether at a district, state, national, or international level. These tests consume students’ lives because they reflect which district is better, what state gets more money, or what country is becoming dumber. Countries put schools on international platforms to make sure they try to take home gold in the unofficial Olympic math, science, reading, and writing tests. Those that get silver and bronze get nice pats on the back, and those that fall out of the top five to ten begin to panic and change their methods to take gold. It’s a cycle of competition, and that isn’t what school is about.
For one, testing wasn’t developed as a way of competition, but a way of measuring progress in an individual students’ or class’ knowledge of a subject. A teacher would be able to identify that a student(s) is struggling and create different methods and avenues for the student(s) to succeed. Currently, teachers are overwhelmed with the inability to cover lessons that students couldn’t grasp because they are on a tight schedule to fulfill the curriculum the students need in order to compete against each other. There is less individual attention in the classroom and more of a push of information.
Most of these teachers are so overwhelmed by the curriculum, that they choose to teach to the curriculum. They have their lesson plans and aren’t ready to change them because they need to cover every topic. This is the quintessential classroom in America. There is little intellectual challenge and more focus toward tests.
It is teachers who go beyond the test that offer their students the best opportunity in both a test taking and real life situation. Teachers who challenge their students intellectually typically have classes that show greater results in these tests because they aren’t being fed information but are being stimulated while in class. These teachers generally are less concerned about the competition occurring between schools and are focused on providing their students with an education that goes beyond the test.
In the end, the idea of testing isn’t bad. As a nation we can track schools that aren’t preparing their students adequately and be present in helping a school become successful. However, testing isn’t about who comes first or last; it’s about progress and making sure everyone is on track. The top school shouldn’t receive more money as a reward, but be satisfied that they are putting their students on a path to success. Testing can work if we evaluate how teachers teach (in that they teach not to the test but intellectually stimulate their students) and we understand that as a nation we stand together and if one school fails we all fail.
This isn’t about money, it’s not about international notoriety, it’s about making sure our students are succeeding. So America, stop looking at each other competitively and focus on the students.
Be part of the education reform and reform American education for good.
- Global Perspectives: Understanding Global Discipline Techniques (moderndaychris.wordpress.com)
- Bright Kids NYC ELA/Math Classes and One-on-one Tutoring Align Material to New Common Core Learning Standards (prweb.com)
- Will This New Teacher Survive? (dianeravitch.net)
- A Florida High School Student Speaks Truth to Power (dianeravitch.net)
I would like the thank everyone who reads moderndaychris and who have stuck with me through this year. I started last year and have 400 followers despite my absence from writing while abroad in Ghana. I appreciate you all for commenting and those who read my posts. I read every comment and love when you add your own perspective. It is all of you that make me write and encourage me to pursue my goals.
A tremendous thank you! Here’s to another 400 followers!