Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why I Hate Tests

It’s the end of the school year and I think we’re all feeling a bit of the burnout.  We’re done with homework, done with packing lunches, we’re pulling from the dirty laundry pile and fighting bedtime battles.

Who the heck wants to go to bed when the sun is still out beckoning us at 8pm to get outside and play?  I know my kids don’t.

Along with the exhaustion I’m feeling something else.  Frustration. I’m frustrated that with all the advances our society has made in so many other arenas we haven’t come up with a better way to assess our children’s intelligence and progress than standardized tests.

Yes, it’s testing season over here.

And it makes me cranky.  Or shall I say, in honor of testing, cantankerous.

I was a good student.  School was easy.  I didn’t fret about tests or studying.  If I didn’t study I could still pull my own weight.  I know for so many other kids this isn’t the case.  I have a child who is not a good tester.  This child studies.  This child knows the material.  All of this goes to crap when a piece of paper with numbered questions is placed in front of said child.

As a parent it is heartbreaking.  Projects, homework, behavior, participation…that is how my kid keeps the grades up.  We can be cruising through the month with an A average until test day.  Then we drop a quick ten points. 

It stinks.

There are classes that this isn’t the case.  Some material sinks in well, and the format of the quizzes seems to jive with the way my dear child’s brain works.

Other classes, not so much.

I just feel we should teach and test the way our kids learn.  Measuring their intelligence with paper, a pencil and questions about a bunch of material is not an accurate method.  I know this because I’ve seen it fail.  I’ve seen my child fail, and I know all of my children are brilliant.  They have different gifts, different ideas and opinions.  They have different mannerisms and preferences.

And this system is not serving all of my children.  This system is failing so many children who learn and perform better when a test is a discussion and not a quiet room.

Life, after all, is all about interactions.  How can tests that take hours measure anything other than a kid’s ability to sit still, pay attention and behave?  Maybe we can gauge how good their memory is and how well they recognize what they’ve learned.  But what about the kids that did learn it – and know it – but they don’t recognize it on that paper?

Epic fail. 

To all the non-testers out there:

No test can measure your intelligence.  Yes, there are fields of study that require them.  There are fields that you will not be able to venture into if you can’t sit and test and remember a bunch of material.  I was able to do that and it served me wonderfully.  This system is not serving you.  The good news is that here are also fields – tons of them – that welcome the creative, antsy, quirky, smart kids that don’t test well.

Find yourself, and find your niche.  No test can tell you anything other than how well you take a test.

That’s all for now folks.  Is it summer yet?

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