There’s been an article bouncing around Twitter and the blogosphere the past few days about a school board member who took a standardized test given to tenth graders in his school system. He failed.
Cue endless discussions as to why he failed. Is it: A. the tests are too abstract B. the tests are unrelated to the knowledge used in life, or C. This person might have known the answers while in school (and after many hours of test prep) but has since forgotten them?
I’m going with D. All of the above.
We can talk testing till the end of time. Should there be more? Should there be less? How about better tests? Let’s start a move for testing reform! Let’s raise standards! (As Sir Ken Robinson says, you never hear anyone talk about lowering standards, do you?)
And on and on and on and on and on. Yawn.
You guys, when is everyone going to admit what everyone already knows? Testing has NOTHING to do with learning or education. And as the years go by that statement is truer than it was even when I was in school. At least when we took tests we just walked in and took them. There was no test prep. It was “Hey, here’s the test. Let’s see how you do.” That goes for the SAT’s as well. Even with that, though, if you were good at taking tests you probably did well. I was pretty good at taking tests. Some of my friends weren’t. If you lined us up today you’d never be able to tell, whether by looks, profession, income or general life satisfaction, which of us did well on tests and which didn’t.
Standardized tests are irrelevant once the last school door closes behind you.
Think about it. When was the last time you took a test? A test that someone told you would determine your future success? No pressure, though.
If you are an engineer, or a CPA a doctor or lawyer, you will have to take tests to make sure you are well versed in the latest laws, regulations and procedures. If you fail, you may lose your ability to practice in your profession. So in those fields, testing has a specific purpose and is required. (As it should be.) In most professions, however, this is not the case. As a writer, for instance, I have never been asked to take a grammar test before submitting an article for publication. “Oh, I’m so sorry Ms. Milstein. We’d love to publish your article but you only scored a 70 on our grammar test, and we require all our authors to score at least an 85. Maybe you should take some time and brush up on diagramming sentences.” (I’ve been rejected plenty, but never for failing a grammar test.)
There are so many other, more useful things that could be going on in all the time that is wasted with testing and all the talk and mania that revolves around testing. Like practical learning through an apprenticeship, or travel, or becoming involved in your community. Things that enrich our lives and make us successful.
Time to shift focus and put testing behind us, where it belongs.