Taking Standardized Tests for a Living

No one I know takes standardized tests for a living. So, why are we using standardized tests to see if you’re going to be good when we don’t have standardized tests after you take them?

…It’s infected the entire ecosystem of education.

If we can get parents and kids and teachers and administration to talk about it…then change will start to happen.

-Seth Godin

This is a powerful quote for me to see today, as I’m heading off to a district curriculum meeting (a parent “advisory” committee, where, honestly, parent input is sought because they legally have to. I don’t think it makes one whit of difference, but if I don’t participate, I don’t get a voice.)

Tonight, we’re reviewing proposed Advanced Placement courses. I will likely be skewered when I say that I disagree with this approach. I don’t like AP classes because – and this is fully acknowledged – they are teaching to a test. AP classes give a set curriculum to schools that cannot be changed. AP classes are a mile wide and a centimeter deep. As a professional historian, I have worked against courses like this my entire professional life because students take these broad history survey courses and don’t like them. Thus, they think they don’t like history.

OK, that’s a blog for another post. This one is about standardized testing.

I’m an excellent test taker. Give me a standardized test about anything – nuclear physics, calculus, English literature, whatever. I could take it and probably do pretty welll. Do I know anything about the subject? Nope. But I can take tests.

I love this quote from Seth Godin. Check out the entire video posted in a blog by Josh Gans, “Learning Should Fit the Child.” (As Gans acknowledges, the video is by Ericsson and is a little bit marketing, but hey, it still has excellent content.) The video is worth your 20 minutes.

The blog post is worth your time, too. Memorizing isn’t useful. Learning how to find the information is useful.



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