Just so we all understand one another – the reason our children are being tested and retested and then tested some more has little to do with education. Rather it has everything to do with money!
An entire industry has been built on the “need” to test children. This has become so pervasive that 25% of every school year is spent on either preparing for or taking standardized tests.
Once upon a time – back in the dark ages when I went to school, the teacher taught and periodically gave us a test over the subject matter. This measured what we had learned and what still needed to be addressed. Of course, the teacher did not have all the other responsibilities they now have like searching lunch bags for forbidden food; or expressing outrage and sending a seven-year-old boy to the principal for having a forgotten inch-long plastic gun in his pocket. Oh!! The inhumanity!!
Then there is all the time required to make sure they are adhering to all the federal regulations or risk losing the federal money the school receives. Of course the school justifies this because they must have that money! According to the U. S. Department of Education, the federal government provides less than 10% of a school’s budget. However if that money is removed, changes must occur somewhere in the system.
….. but back to the tests.
While doing research for a paper when I was getting my masters’ degree, I learned that when standardized tests were initially implemented, they were not allowed to be used to compare students, schools, systems, or anything else. Not only were they not allowed to be used to compare, they were strictly forbidden to be used in that manner. The sole purpose of the test was for a student to be measured against him or herself.
This position was slowly phased out once the U.S Department of Education came into being.
What is the purpose of comparing one school, teacher, system, or groups of children, etc. to another? Do we honestly believe that these comparisons are made with the best interests of the child in mind?
In my tutoring business I see far too many children who are struggling because they got lost in the shuffle of the schooling process. I talk with too many parents who believe their child is not meeting their potential.
The majority of these children are behind or struggling because at some point in their earlier schooling, they did not master one or more essential skills. Of course, in the early years every skill becomes part of the education foundation. Lacking only one or two can cause a “structural” failure or at the very least, structural weakness.
Identifying and treating these missing pieces require personal attention. They cannot be found buried in a standardized test, the purpose of which, remember, is to compare school system “A” to school system “B”.
I currently have a second grade student who was having trouble reading. After four sessions I realized that she did not know her vowel sounds. Obviously this was inhibiting her ability to read. She was spending so much time trying to sound out words that there was no time to understand what she was reading. A few weeks later the school did a formal evaluation and discovered that – she did not know her vowel sounds!!
The reason this problem went undetected for so long was because the classroom activities did not provide the opportunity to discover it. And when the school did discover it, it was a “special” test that revealed it. All I had done was read with this child for a total of three hours, and I was able to “see” what the problem was.
I am not sharing this to pat myself on the back, but to point out that public education has become too much of a system that depends on “tests” rather than the educators. Big business has believed for some time that the way to educate the masses was to make schools more like business. And what does business do? They sell things – like tests!