Next week, my daughters will begin the ever anticipated series of state standardized testing. No less than three communications have come home, along with a message on the district’s call system to encourage us to provide an adequate amount of sleep for our children and a good breakfast with a side of encouragement to do their best.
While state testing is not new, the assessments are more rigorous and require a different set of skills to be applied to the test-taking process to be successful. Our teachers are working hard to help students be prepared and I know they feel a similar frustration about the standardization of learning that has permeated our educational system.
State Ed is pushing the data-driven instruction model, which they assert is a key framework for supporting student success.This model begins with the assessment as a measurement to drive analysis which will then direct specific action to improve subsequent assessment outcomes. This places value on the outcome of one test in relation to the child’s entire educational performance for the academic year.
One of my issues with this approach is that the tests are purporting to assess what my child knows and can do, but it is pigeon-holed into subject areas that people who are removed from the classroom experience have deemed important to my child’s success and college-readiness (math, ELA, science). It does not consider the child’s performance in extended studies, such as art, music and physical education. Not every child will go into a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field.
Standardized assessments are not going away, as long as policy makers and legislators continue to place value in only a smattering of a child’s educational experience, and continue to drive instruction based on assessment data that merely gives them a snapshot of one moment in time on my child’s educational spectrum.
So … as testing approaches next week, I will ensure a peaceful night’s sleep for my children, no thanks to the anxiety the tests have stirred up. I will give my children a good breakfast, which I do every day. And I will encourage them to do their best, as every parent does. It is likely that I will also send a lovely letter to state ed, possibly followed up with a voice message.