A Question on Testing: What’s the Point?


My students – with their IEPS, modifications, accommodations, academic struggles, and all – just completed a three-day ELA test.

On day one, they did their best. On day two, they tried their hardest. And on day three, they slogged up the stairs, uninterested in and unmotivated by the prospect of facing this even one more time.

An hour and 45 minutes on day one. An hour and 45 minutes on day two. An hour and 45 minutes on day three. In all: five hours and 15 minutes across three days. Five hours and 15 minutes of silence, confusion, doubt, and frustration. Yes, they were willing to give it “The Ol’ College (and Career-Ready) Try,” but by day three, they had seen and had enough.

What will these tests show that we don’t already know? That they read significantly below grade level (by any standards, Common Core or otherwise)? That their writing ability doesn’t reflect their speaking ability or intelligence? What’s the point?

They were finished with day three by the end of day two. All they cared about this morning was that after today, this test would be done.

Do you think my students are the only ones who felt that way? Why do we subject them to so many hours? Shouldn’t, say, 20 multiple choice questions and two or three essays suffice? The kids are not interested or invested, so they’re not at their best.

Do these tests show the full scope of my students’ capabilities? Or the capabilities of others?

I think we all know the answer to those questions.

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One response to “A Question on Testing: What’s the Point?

  1. What the testing, legislators or lobbyists do not keep in mind when they throw together the policies for evaluating student knowledge is THE OTHER FACTORS. They do not consider hormones or brain development, they don’t fathom a student’s capacity (or diminishing capacity) for patience. For God’s sake, they must assume (pun intended) students are machines or sponges who get their 3 meals, have decent guardians, never experience bullying or drama or stress.

    I’d love to recommend that everyone–teacher, administrator, legislator, lobbyist, etc.–read “Brave New World” and see the potential problems for considering our students to be the equivalent of obedient, disciplined, brain-washed automatons. It never works.

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