Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Testing and the Real World

In Florida, they’re starting to question whether a relentless focus on standardized testing actually prepares children for the real world. Now this occurs to people? The testing regime in Florida has been in place for a decade now.

The questions, as presented in this article from the Sun Sentinel, seem to revolve around whether or not the tests actually foster the learning needed to become successful beyond high school. Fair question. After all, if we’re really going to be basing our system of education around test results, shouldn’t we be making sure that our tests actually tell us something?

For me, that’s the bottom line. I don’t mind teachers teaching to a test, as long as success on that test is a worthwhile end. I do have an issue if we’re focusing on preparing kids for the wrong things.

More than that, even, I object to the notion that tests and accountability are answers to educational problems. That’s simply not true. Even the best-designed assessment only assesses, it does not teach. Assessments can inform teaching, but they can’t do the job themselves. The real question is what do we do when we’ve determined which kids are learning and which kids are not. Giving another test and hoping the system corrects itself around the test isn’t much of a solution. Not in the real world, at least.

No comments: