Wednesday, March 6, 2013

#Slice 2013: 6 of 31-A Different Perspective on Testing

This month, I'm participating in the Slicing challenge hosted at With many other bloggers, I am committed to write a post every day for the month of March.

I had planned a different post for this morning--had finished it and had it ready to go --but after reading the poem that Michelle wrote  and the reflections about medical visits from Stacey Shubitz, this post about standardized testing woke me up this morning.

Last night, we had time to sit around and linger at the dinner table so I asked my family about their thoughts on standardized testing. Should we have it and if not, how can schools prove that they are doing their job?

I love when my dad participates in a conversation because he doesn't much so I didn't want to slam his response. "Graduation rates," he said, looking up from his plate.

My high school freshman didn't have the same conflicting interest in encouraging Doc's participation so she said what I was thinking.

"Don't you think that's a little late in the game, Doc?" Julia asked. "What are you going to do if kids don't graduate and you don't find out until they are seventeen?"

"You have a point," Doc said.

Julia and Doc were the supporters of standardized testing at the table, but for different reasons. I'm not sure that either one understood my concern that the same assessment does not give useful information about the lowest students or the highest students, (which is another post that I might write one of these days and why I am optimistic in some ways about the new testing coming down the pipe, but also concerned that we will discover a much bigger achievement gap than we think exists...) but Julia was willing to continue the debate. Her closing argument?

"It's the best time of year, Mom," she said. "There's no homework, the tests are easy so you hardly have to think, and you get big parties when they are over."

Wow. Not exactly my Vision of the Graduate type thinking.

My three older daughters watched their favorite show last night (and it's a junky one) because they had no homework and one of them only has her AP classes today in order to accommodate the testing. Hmmm.


  1. I'm so used to focusing on the struggling students that I had lost perspective on how higher achieving students must perceive all of this. I wish that teachers could be trusted so that actual, daily performance and feedback counted vs. responses to questions or writing prompts that are stand-alone events... It's like measuring the success of a marriage based on the money spent on the wedding instead of how the couple interacts on a daily basis.

  2. I love that several generations were having this conversation at the dinner table. Like you, I have seen my 20-something youngest daughter watch that junky kind of tv. It makes me worry about who she looks to as her role models.

  3. Love the differing and yet similar perspective of different people - generations....I wonder what the conversation would be like if you were in Congress?

  4. Interesting take on standardized testing. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Yes... my sons and my students often have this same attitude. (I am a gifted resource teacher). Sometimes they ask me if their test will be different so they can show what they learned with me. I have to tell them no - they only get to take the grade level test. They shrug and celebrate the easy few weeks with no homework and plenty of free reading time.

  6. Interesting. My oldest son takes our tests, my youngest will next year. Being a strong student he loves testing week for the same reason - he thinks they are easy and no homework. I worry about the kids that aren't strong students. What do they think?

  7. I have heard similar comments from my own teen. Now that she is in high school (and done with most standardized state tests), she is glad to be rid of them. We've been lucky that the tests have come easy for her. I teach both gifted and inclusion/struggling students. The difference in perspective is wide. The gifted students view them as an easy waste of time. The struggling students often feel defeated before they even start. My biggest challenge with them has been to convince them that they have learned enough to try it, to actually read the text and questions before answering them.

  8. My daughter, a senior loves testing days these days - they go in late because they don't have to take the test, and there is no homework. It's a different perspective, a different set of priorities, right?!

  9. Melanie,
    My kids liked the breakfasts they served before every day's tests. However, by the end of their school careers they were never big fans of the tests. Their school also participates in MAP testing which occurs three times each year. A lot of time was spent each year testing.


  10. As I teach ELL students, they view standardized tests a bit differently: they often have to read long passages that they do not understand at all.It can be very depressive for them. They do not get an exemption, they have to take all the same tests!

  11. It sounds like quite a long waste of time for those who are the high achieving students, makes me sad to hear that they are excited because there's no homework & parties. And then, on the other hand, those who struggle must be beat over the head with it, day after day. I wish I could imagine who this is serving? Thanks for talking about this Melanie.

  12. Wow Melanie,
    Different perspectives here on testing. I know my son is taking the ITBS this week...we've kind of breathed a little sigh of relief because the rigor of homework has dwindled due to the tests. The whole testing thing creates a jumbled ball of yarn atmosphere and it's beginning to spread it's fingers into a lot other areas of our lives. It's really becoming a sort of madness.