On Standardized Testing

by , under Education Debates, Mommy Debates and Social Issues

I’ve been reading so many blog posts this past week concerning standardized testing, and every one of those bloggers opposed it. I can’t empathise at all with their stance, and I’m not so sure I’m upset with that or find my lack of empathy unfortunate.

When I took standardized tests way back in the day, they were laughable. We prepped for weeks in advance, practicing with tests from previous years so we knew exactly what to expect from the format.  The school set aside the entire morning for one test section. I would finish it in the first twenty minutes and sit there for the rest of the morning either staring at the other students or reading. I’m not a super-genius by any means. I finished early because everything on those tests should have been learned by that grade level. They were designed to be easy–to test that we had already learned that material. Our teachers did a fantastic job preparing us for these test. Yes, it was to the detriment of learning other material, but we were definitely prepared. Even more laughable were the questions. Several sections of those standardized tests were exactly the same as years past, right down to the very same questions with the very same answers.

Despite all the preparation, the several hours given to answer no more than 40 questions, and the recycled questions with familiar answers, approximately 20% of my class fell below basic level.  I honestly don’t know how that is possible. Yes, I understand some people get test anxiety, but it’s my personal stance that if you can’t get through the pressure of a simple test, how will you make it in the adult world when you don’t have structured, guided tests but big projects with strict deadlines and no guidance from your superior.  These tests don’t just test content knowledge.  They test your time management skills.  They test whether you actually have the wherewithal to complete a task, especially without panicking.  I don’t want a nation full of future adults who need their hand held and pampered just to get through a test.  I want a nation of adult MEN and WOMEN who can complete a given task at not just the proficient level, but go above and beyond what their employer expects.  They need to be strong-willed, fearless, and knowledgeable and manage time efficiently.  We need a nation of learners who are eager to conquer knowledge and not whining because they have to write another paper or take another test.

Seriously, the employers in the adult world aren’t going to care if these future adults get anxiety when they have deadlines or work in groups.  They won’t care that you had an IEP or that you need your own personal space free of office distractions in order to fill out a simple report.  These children’s’ future employers will fire them and find someone who can do the job without need for pandering.  How are we helping these children prepare for the future (afterall, isn’t that what schooling is supposed to be about) if we freak out because they are crying over a simple, simple, simple test?

Stop with this entitlement plague that’s spreading across the nation.  Stop pandering and start bolstering!

This blog post is a response to An Opt Out Letter That Speaks to All Parents” posted at EducationRoundatble.org.