It’s that time of year again – the time your child and their teacher has spent all year getting ready for… Standardized Testing.
According to a report by the AFT (American Federation of Teachers), many students spend over a month of each school year either preparing for the test or taking it. Below is an excerpt, but you can read the whole report here.
In the Eastern school district, students in grades 6-11 spent up to 50 hours per school year – or two full weeks – taking state-mandated tests, interim benchmarking tests and other district academic assessments. The district also devoted 110 hours or more – about one full month of the school year – to test prep.
It’s just not time wasted on this preparing for the test but also what I call “congratulation time”…
You know what I mean – the parties, the outings, the Disney movies they watch for doing a good job. And BEST YET, in many districts, once the tests are done in a few weeks the SLUMP toward summer begins, where ALMOST NOTHING will be taught for the rest of the year.
This is how the standardized testing cycle beings…
If your student is struggling right now at this time of year… chances are good that the school will do nothing to help them, and they’ll be pushed along to the next grade, AGAIN.
I know of several 7th and 8th grade math classes who spend many weeks for the rest of the year watching Disney movies because ‘nothing they do matters’ since the tests are already done.
That’s just not the type of ideals or work-ethic anyone wants to see develop in their child. But, outside of that… teaching for these kinds of tests leaves students worse off intellectually and emotionally – they are so stressed out because they need to perform well.
While there is a growing opt-out movement for these tests, I don’t believe the tests will go away anytime soon. Pearson and other textbook manufacturers have too much at stake.
The only hope for your children is for you, as a parent, to stand up and ensure that your child is getting what they need even if the school isn’t. Don’t be fooled that the schools actually care about how well your child succeeds – they don’t.
Your child’s future is in your hands. Don’t sit back and let the disaster of standardized testing effect your child.
Here are the 3 main ways standardize tests will hinder your child if you don’t do something to counter it.
1) “Test Takers” Do Worse in College and Modern Careers
Plain and simple… “programming” our nation’s students to be good at recalling and repeating information just doesn’t promote the type of intellectual development or critical thinking power that’s really required to do well in a modern career.
This is one of the key reasons, I believe, why globally, the United States has fallen so far behind in advanced careers.
Since standardized testing has such high stakes for how a schools receive government funding, they focus only on the subjects and information that are being tested.
Subjects like music, arts, gym, cultural and philosophical studies are quickly becoming old news. Even areas once considered hallmarks of a classical education once embraced here in the US are being radically cut and restructured for testing… yes, I’m talking about subjects like science and history!
Because so much emphasize is put on reading and math test scores, basic, easy information is drilled into students ad nauseum.
They don’t have to think of answers to multiple-step problems that real mathematics majors need to be able to do.
They don’t have to read and synthesize information that business people need to do.
When in the real world, successful people draw on a variety of experiences and knowledge to get unique answers to problems or innovate new solutions.
In the real world, there are no multiple choice questions to pick from.
There is shockingly little actual thinking that the students need to do in order to score well on a standardized test, as long as they’re good at memorizing and repeating stuff.
Colleges and the future of American Business are looking for well-rounded individuals who can think for themselves innovate and create solutions when there are none… traits that are children are sadly losing out on.
2) Stress and Pressure Slows Brain Development and Makes Our Kids HATE Learning (and Going to School)
Remember, before these tests became high-stakes test when the No Child Left Behind, the tests were to show a random SAMPLE of EVERYTHING your child knows. However, with the pressure on to perform well on these tests, the students are only taught EXACTLY what will be on the test. So while an entire month is slated for just preparing and taking the test, the rest of the school year prior to the test is teaching only what is on the test and nothing more in a huge majority of classrooms across the country.
This is why our children are not getting a well-rounded education that will allow them to be flexible in the workplace.
However, it is worse than that…
Teachers and Admimistators, whose salary depend on the outcome of the tests, pound into our children the importance of doing well. I see kids freak out every year at this time.
The local school districts have extra psychologists and other mental health expects on staff to help the students though this time. Several of my students report their third grade friends are throwing up on a regular basis because they are so scared and nervous.
Kids are breaking down in tears or acting out. How is this type of pressure on elementary school children good or effective? I feel it is child abuse to put our children through this pressurized situation.
How would it be if our children believe that education was a fabulous gift that was being given to them.
Something that they valued. Something they couldn’t wait to get more of. We need to get children to WANT to learn – and high stakes testing cannot be part of that equation.
3) Students only learn how to guess well, instead of being able to do the actual work.
Since the tests are all multiple choice and there is no penalty for guessing, most of the test prep is on HOW to take the test.
These test-taking strategies include practice such as: figuring out which answers are wrong, so that you can guess better; how to skim passages until you find the only part that you need to answer the question; how to write the first and last paragraph well and put in just enough in the middle to look like you can write.
Doing well on the test only shows that you can TEST well, not that you actually know how to do anything.
I have seen student after student not do well on standardize tests because they second guess themselves, or because they freeze up but they knew the materials. The test is also designed to trick you so that you don’t have confidence in your answers. For all that, you never get a chance to see how you actually did so you can get better.
In a normal situation, you take a test and then see what you did wrong so you can re-learn that information. However, with these tests no one ever sees exactly what you need to work on – not the student, not the teachers, not even the administrators. All we ever know is how good a student/class/school does compared to others.
What to do about it…
I believe we need to spend more time encouraging our children to explore topics that they’re interested in… and then get them to view learning as a vehicle to pursue that passion.
If you agree – I’d love to connect with you 1-on-1.
Fill out the quick form below so we can connect…
We’re launching a couple new Facebook groups that I’d love for you to be a part of. And… if you need some help with your student(s) right now, we can talk about that too!