DIfferentiated Testing

Interesting article in a New York Times School Book (“Students Learn Differently. So Why Test Them All the Same?”, Feb. 17, 2012)¬†about the New York State testing requirements. This particular teacher blogger is an ESL teacher, and his description of teaching to the test is distressing. (Not the teacher — but the fact that he had to totally design a course to help kids pass the test.)

In his case, he is dealing with English language learners, and it is (well, should be) that testing needs for this population should be different. Not only do we teach to the test for native English speakers, for the same happens to newly arrived immigrants, when truly, there must be more important things for them to learn.

I think the concept Mr. Goldstein presents is valid for native English speakers, as well. Any teacher knows that kids have different learning styles. Some kids need pictures, some need to hear it. Some need to move things, some need to see words.

But I don’t think standardized tests come in different learning styles, do they? They heavily favor the text based learner. The kids who read and process text easily. Standardized tests exclude the visual thinker, the kinesthetic learner. How is that fair?