Education has become a high stakes testing driven profession. Now, standardized tests have been around for what seems like forever, and valuable information comes from those assessments. So, how did we go from utilizing assessments to gain valuable information, to determining whether a student can move to another grade, graduate, how a teacher is measured, how well a school performs, whether a school gets additional funding, and the list goes on and on?
Again, I am not against standardized testing; however, because of all that is attached to those assessments we now are assessing students from the moment they enter school. We are progress monitoring continually, and anxiety levels have risen in our teachers, students and our students’ parents. Society as a whole is seeing a rise in mental health issues, and our school systems deal with societal woes on a daily basis. Schools are a microcosm of what is happening on a larger scale in society. That is not ever taken into consideration; however, when looking at the overall performance of education. As I have stated in previous blogs, teachers deal with every aspect of a student. In order for a student to be prepared to learn they must first be in the correct frame of mind…simply put, their basic needs met.
Some of our students live in cars, hotels, with other family members, in foster care, a different place month to month, are even hungry, with a lack of basic hygiene understanding. Basically, they face stresses at early ages that some of us may or may not ever face. In turn, teachers are facing situations they must address and handle that may be out of their comfort zone as well. Relationships are key to student performance. Teachers must have relationships with their students, and parents, and what I mean by that is trust, respect, knowledge of their student and their life. Teachers don’t need to be invasive to obtain information, simply know the circumstances of the student’s life. With high stakes testing; however, many teachers are put in a position where building relationships with their students is sacrificed because of the constant push for performance on tests.
High stakes testing has driven education to become assessment based, a constant monitoring of student performance. Students in pre-k are being assessed as well, multiple times throughout the year. We are screening in-coming Kindergarten students before they even have their first day of school. Seriously! I understand having standards, and I understand rigor, however, students also need time to socially develop and learn to interact with one another. Some of our societal woes could be addressed if we paid as much attention to our students’ social-emotional health, as we do their ability to read, write and do mathematics
The cry from educators and students’ parents is to stop all of the assessments. Progress monitoring and constant assessing is not going to go away until all that is attached to standardized tests lessens. Again, it is not about doing away with standardized tests, as we need them. It is about looking at the whole-child and the whole-teacher to determine performance. We, as educators and students, are more than a test snapshot.
This brings me to the type of testing we are utilizing for our snapshot. Pick one! A test should not be constantly changing from year to year. A good assessment of course needs to be normed, but quit moving the target. Educators need to know the standards, teach the standards, and the standards need to be assessed in a very simple way, with a consistent standardized test that is testing a student’s skill level…period. Legislators must evaluate all that has become attached to standardized testing. Until everything attached to high stakes testing lessens, constant assessing throughout the school year will continue, as schools will have no choice.
My goodness, education is more than assessments…they are supposed to be preparing students to function in the world, a global world. In order to function in a global world students must be able to problem-solve, interact and work with others, be emotionally healthy, and physically healthy, understand diversity…not necessarily know how to take and perform on a test. Education is more than a test, so are educators and students.