Thursday, April 26, 2012

Testing in our public schools

It's that time of year. My kids are taking the state tests this week. I'm a former educator and I'm appalled that they have now decided to make the tests part of their final 6 weeks grade. It's great for the kids that are good at taking tests. It stinks for everyone else. I just don't get it.

My first son was an excellent test taker. He still does great at school without even trying. My second son does ok. This is his first year of taking this test. I don't look forward to it being part of his grade. He may do fine. He may not. As a mom I think this is just a bad idea.

As a former educator I think this is a bad idea. Who thought this would be a good idea? That's what I want to know? Because it wasn't educators! We have become a nation of teaching to the test. We teach all year stressing what the test deems important. What does this test do? Stresses out the teachers and the students. If the students are stressed out are they taking the time to do their best on the test? No. I wish someone could just explain to me the rationale behind this.

I know we need accountability. I know teachers should be able to show they have taught this year. Isn't that what the principals are for? If we don't trust our principals to do their job then why do they have a job? The test taking in our country has just gone too far.

There are many children who do well all year long taking tests orally, or being given more time to finish their test, or being pulled out so that they have a quieter environment so they can finish their test. What we have accomplished is to show who the great test takers are. It doesn't show us what kind of job the teacher did or the child. What about the child with a really bad home life? He's not going to test well and in his life who cares if he tests well.

I think we need to rethink the way we are testing our kids. I don't know what the answer is. But teaching to the test and stressing out the kids and the teachers is not worth it.