Standardized Test Season is Upon Us

The other day I took the paper my older kids brought home with them a few weeks ago and highlighted the dates of the standardized tests they’ll be taking. Ani’s first is on Monday (English). She also had to take algebra and biology. Cameron will have to take reading and math.

I hate standardized tests. I get that we apparently have to prove kids are learning something in a way that isn’t teacher given grades. But I’m not sure standardized tests is the way to do that.

A few times over the course of the year so far they’ve taken what they call benchmark tests. These tests give an idea of how well the kids are doing in class and whether they are likely to pass. But those benchmarks have pretty much nothing to do with the reality of classroom work and assignments.

For example, Cameron got a 64% on his most recent reading benchmark. This was apparently a “good” score. If it was the actual test he would’ve passed by a large margin. Never mind his next lowest grade for the quarter was 80%. The benchmark scores count in their final grades (though his reading teacher actually dropped the benchmark score in his third quarter grade calculation because it was so ridiculously out of the norm for him). Ani’s had some similar way out of the norm scores on her benchmarks, too.

For the last week and a half in Ani’s English class they have been prepping for the test on Monday. Basically learning how to pass. This means that’s 2 full weeks (plus random days through the school year) devoted to test prep. They could have used that time to learn things that are actually relevant in the real world.

Standardized testing doesn’t start until 3rd grade. And yet my kindergartener and second grader were doing test-prep-lite on occasion. From early on these kids start getting stressed over these tests. Ani’s a bit anxious about her English test on Monday. Never mind she’s gotten high A’s all three quarters this year in English. Then again, a sophomore friend who is brilliant failed his English STAAR last year the first time he took it. He had A’s every quarter in English, too.

The superintendent said he’d get rid of the standardized tests if he could, if they weren’t required by the state. I know a lot of parents would stand up and cheer if he did.

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