Thursday, June 21, 2001

School Testing

So our new President thinks our schools need to do more testing? He couldn't be more wrong!

I wonder how many people realize just how big a role testing plays right now in our nation's schools. Everything we do now is centered on the MSPAP. Students are taught the testing jargon. They are taught the testing format. They practice for the test. They practice for the test some more. Then they practice for the test even more. Finally, they take the test!

Everything in the curriculum revolves around whether it will help students perform better on the test. If it is not related to this concept, there is no room in the curriculum for it.

I wonder where we first got the idea that testing was so important? No one will argue that you have to know where you are in order to know where you're going and how to get there. But it seems to me that we are traveling around in circles, chasing our own tail.

I think there is a connection with the false assumption that schools can be run like businesses: Run a test to check production, set reasonable production goals and run a final check to see if we've achieved our outcome. To an outsider, this seems perfectly logical.

But to a teacher, things are not so cut and dried. For one thing, we are not dealing with the normal "product." Look at what lies behind the data. We are dealing with children, human beings.

Long ago, educational philosophy thought that children were like containers into which teachers poured knowledge. We know this is absolutely untrue. There must be interaction--active learning for things to "gel."

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