What the Tests Don’t Tell us

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Qualities Not Measured by Most Tests, Image via DyslexicKids.net

By Lindsey Lipsky, M.Ed.
It is no secret that today’s youth are tested and re-tested at astounding rates.  Ever since the implementation of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which mandated annual yearly testing for students in all 50 states as a means for measuring progress; teachers, parents, and students have been inundated with a kind of testing mania.Clara Hemphill in her op-ed piece Too Much for Testing to Bear states, “Parents, teachers, and certainly the children are weary of the standardized tests that have sapped so much of the joy from the classroom and pushed so many teachers to replace creative, imaginative lessons with timid and defensive ones.”If you read the messages coming out of public schools today, more emphasis is placed on a child’s reading and mathematics score than on his or her own character, personality, and talents, despite a growing body of evidence that these characteristics are what truly count for life-long success. Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of the Miami-Dade County School District in Florida states, “Right now, this year, we’re facing about 32 different assessments, different tests that our students will have to take, in addition to about 1,200 different end-of-course assessments mandated by both state and federal entities,” (Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour).

With such laser focus on high-stakes testing around the country, educators and non-educators alike continue to echo a feeling that adoption of these assessments in schools leads to less time for actual, engaging instruction and has, for many, drained the joy out of teaching. Even worse is how all this testing affects our students with learning disabilities and special needs. (I get test anxiety just thinking about it!)

As many educators go into this new year prepping for our mandated state and national assessments, how can we help reverse the negative effects of over-testing in our classroom?

Watch this video by @TakePart and @Jennyinglee, in Kids Tell All: I Am More Than a Standardized Test and this hilarious video post by Doug Robertson, @TheWeirdTeacher on “THE TEST” (duhn,duhn, duhhhhn!) His message is sure to inspire both you and your students. 

What do you think about high-stakes standardized testing in your classroom?  How do you relay to students that there is more to learning than just what’s on the test? Leave your comments below, or let’s discuss on Twitter @LindseyLipsky