"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Monday, June 3, 2013

Standardized Testing

We have officially completed our class work for the 2012/2013 school year, so only one thing remains - standardized testing.   By Minnesota law, I must administer standardized tests to my children yearly because I "only" possess an engineering degree and NOT a teaching degree.

Because I am a law abiding citizen, I have faithfully administered said standardized tests for the past twelve years, to whomever happened to be between the ages of 7 and 16 in our home (and a few friends' kids).  In those twelve years, I have made a few observations.  I thought I'd take a minute to share them with you.

  1. Standardized testing is a really POOR way to judge what a child has learned in their schooling.  Why?  Well, unlike some schools, we don't teach to the test here.  So, while my chidren may not know in second grade which workers are paid with taxpayers' money, they can tell you a boatload of information about the early, middle and late Middle Ages and how workers' guilds and the bubonic plague ushered in the Renaissance. 
  2. Asking four questions on capitalization does NOT give you a very good understanding of a child's knowledge of capitalization.
  3. When asked a question in an unfamiliar way, a child may answer wrongly even though they really do know the correct answer.  True story - I was once testing my children and they wrote down that milk came from trees even though, if you were to ask them where milk comes from they would have told you cows.
  4. Some children cannot add 2+2 in a testing situation even though they are capable of doing long division.
  5. If a child struggles with reading, it will cause them to do poorly on all other subjects in written standardized tests.
So, I give the tests.  I get the results.  I look at the results, file them away (in case the school district ever asks to see them - although they never have), and carry on with our school.  I teach my kids five days a week for 52 weeks out of the year, I think I know what they know and what they don't know.  I already know what they struggle with and what they excel in.  I don't need a test to show me that, and since the state doesn't even get the results of said tests, it really is an exercise in futility.

And tomorrow, I will test them some more.

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