“Standardized testing has become the arbiter of social mobility, yet there is more regulation of the food we feed our pets that of the tests we give our kids”
— Robert Schaeffer
State testing will dominate the next two weeks of my classroom time. Of concern is the fact that students are taking photos of this year’s California’s state assessments, and posting those photos on-line, thus raising the possibility of that school’s test scores being invalidated. But buried within that story is this specific reality, not necessarily connected to the story itself but a trenchant observation at the standardized assessments themselves:
Students typically don’t have anything at stake on the annual tests: Colleges don’t look at student scores, and the scores don’t affect course grades or grade-point averages — although L.A. Unified has experimented with rewarding improvement on a standardized test with a higher course grade.
There you have it. We ask so much of students on exams that ultimately have more effect upon the adults at the schools they attend, than upon their own academic prospects. Nothing better exemplifies characterizing state tests as chest-pounding exercises in meaninglessness than the above comment–that is, if you’re a student. But as one of those adults at their school, it’s everything, as the numbers they will produce on these exams will ultimately be taken as more about me than it does about them. As much as I want to put the focus of my day upon my 32 kids, the next fortnight becomes entirely about me.
I hate this.