Opinion
Teaching Opinion

What Every Student Needs is More Testing...

By Starr Sackstein — October 18, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

... Said no educator in his/her right mind, ever.

Yet, we spend the vast majority of our time as teachers in this data-driven and accountability age testing students like our own lives depend on it (and unfortunately in some cases, our jobs do... but that’s a topic for another article).

Unfortunately, in my experience, the state mandated tests or standardized tests are not made bias free and therefore the data collected from them is skewed against the kids which just makes the time spent testing using these exams a colossal waste.

Why should my students who are functioning well below grade level suffer the humiliation of taking an exam that will only confirm their short-comings rather than spend that precious time actually supporting them in a way that will help them find success?

Too often schools are hand-cuffed into aggressive testing schedules despite what we all know to be best for students, but we simply don't or can't rebel against the mandates.

As a teacher, it is exceptionally hard to stare down a room full of anxious students who are sick of sitting still and feeling stupid because we expect them to do work they aren’t ready to do and then judge them on it. What are we supposed to say to kids?

Of course, we agree that there shouldn’t be this much testing; almost everyone agrees on this except for maybe the companies making the tests who are profiting from our students’ stress but what can we do about it?

Living my life in a solutions-based model, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t told kids that the tests are bad. The truth is these tests don’t accurately assess our kids, the lowest functioning ones especially, so we need to remind our students that no test cannot define them.

Here’s what we can do even if we can’t do a full on sit-in and protest the test:


  • Do your best to align actual class learning with some aspect of critical thinking. Although it may not look exactly like the test, the skills are the same.
  • If you can obtain the results of the exams, with some sort of data analysis, at least then you can make the time mean something and more effective use of small group instruction may ensue.
  • Remind students that no test defines who they are or their worth and that although no one enjoys taking tests they don’t feel ready to take, they are an unfortunate part of the learning process in schools right now.
  • Encourage students to see the tests for what they are, an opportunity to share what they know and can do, but nothing more than that. There is no need to stress them.
  • Although I don’t advocate for test prepping at all, I see no problem with previewing test directions and/or a couple of problems within the week of the actual exam to give students a little more preparedness. Offering them a little practice from past exams when the test is right in view can certainly demystify it. Teaching a mini-lesson of testing tips may be helpful too.

All students have the right to feel like they have something valuable to offer the world and it’s our job to ensure that no test takes that away from them. There is more to each of us than our score on any given exam and we must keep this in perspective. Until we move away from exams completely to other, more effective and meaningful assessment like portfolios and project based learning, students will have to endure the ticking of the clock and the use of number 2 pencils.

What can we do now, to ensure students remember that they are not the sum total of many tests for better or for worse? Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Opinion A 6th Grade Class on Racism Got Me Ready for the Rest of My Life
Every student should have the opportunity to learn about race, writes a college freshman.
Cristian Gaines
4 min read
Illustration of silhouettes of people with speech bubbles.
Getty
Teaching Opinion The Classroom-Management Field Can’t Stop Chasing the Wrong Goal
And, no, new social-emotional-learning initiatives aren’t the answer, writes Alfie Kohn.
Alfie Kohn
5 min read
Illustration of children being cut free from puppet strings
Daniel Fishel for Education Week
Teaching Photos What School Looks Like When Learning Moves Outside
One class of 5th graders shows what's possible when teachers take their lessons outside.
1 min read
Teacher Angela Ninde, right, works with students in their garden at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va., on Sept. 7, 2021.
Teacher Angela Ninde, right, works with students in their garden at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Va.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week
Teaching Opinion Wanted: Students to Write About This School Year
Classroom Q&A is inviting teachers to have their students write about their school experiences for publication here.
1 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty