What Are We Testing

Decades ago, people weren’t subjected to standardized tests to do everything from getting into college to passing third grade. There was an assumption that the best candidates could be determined by looking at a person’s grades and trusting their teachers’ evaluations. Somewhere after WWII that changed. At first, standardized tests were necessary to get into college (SATs, ACTs,) and graduate school (MCATs, LSATs, GREs). Now, it seems like students aren’t allowed to pass anything without going through a round of standardized testing.

One of the big issues with standardized testing is that it can’t test the skills and abilities that students really need in life. It doesn’t matter if I can give some obscure date, but analyzing political rhetoric is a skill that should be taught. It should be taught, but how do you test it? A bubble can be filled out that shows a student knows what date a battle in the French-Indian War took place. There isn’t a bubble test for an analytical mind.

These tests are also taken as individuals; unfortunately for students, the vast majority of adulthood is spent as part of a team. While we’re preparing kids to be judged on what they can do by themselves, the focus on teamwork is lost. Too bad that in a work environment the focus is on how well you work as a team and being overly concerned with your individual abilities is more of a hindrance than a help. It’s yet another thing that we are telling children what will be important for their lives that has little, if anything, to do with what their lives will look like.

My kids will be opted out of testing. The tests don’t have any metric for what I think they need to be able to do in order to flourish in adulthood – critical thinking, ability to analyze, how to work as part of a group. That’s what schooling should be preparing for – adulthood and a career, not a test full of arbitrary information. All the facts in the tests can be googled now. Phones can calculate the quadratic equation, but if someone doesn’t know when or where to use it knowing what it is is irrelevant. Children’s heads and personalities are being shoved full of irrelevant facts, and we wonder why our education system is failing?


2 thoughts on “What Are We Testing

  1. Leave alone testing, the total education syllabi does not have anything to do with Life nor does it teach how to live life. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t go to school at all and intend to experience life and learn about it outside the classroom??!! Similarly, testing is very much needed to create competition, analyse a kid’s intelligence, and have a look at his/her hard work. And believe me, any knowledge gained never goes waste, any day. Job and career are not the only things in life, knowledge is. So, for kids to study more, they need to know the hard work that goes into it, and for that tests are important.


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