Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Reality of State Testing

Today I think about testing and kids and teachers and real learning and what these state tests really measure anyway... Because we have to, being in the public school system, there is nothing to be said about it. We can complain about it all we want, argue with legislators, state and federal officials, and this will not make much of a difference. I am just curious what it does to people in a school. I can tell you that, since coming back from Winter Break, the talk has been all about state testing: what to focus on, test-taking strategies to use, short and extended responses in math and reading, test preparation, and on and on and on...

Question: Has state-mandated testing forced us to cover material for the sake of coverage, or are we covering material for depth, for the sake of learning itself? When we panic to make sure that certain items are covered before the test, to make sure that kids are at least exposed to material, I can tell you that the answer to the above question is certainly not learning for the sake of learning.
There is a better way. If we want to get back to learning for the sake of learning, for the sake of creating in kids a desire to learn more, we must change the way we do things. We must offer kids opportunities to do projects, to read and write and think and talk, to play; we must offer students the opportunity to become more than just great test-takers. We must offer our students a shot at being prepared for a future that will contain jobs that have not even been created yet.
A teacher commented the other day that even he was bored.

Certainly, there is a better way.