Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Completely Fill In The Bubble

Confession Time...

I hate standardized tests. I didn't like them as a kid having to take them and I don't like them as a parent having to watch my own children stress over them. As someone with many friends who are teachers, I don't think it is fair that they are required to put so much emphasis on these tests, taking away from the quality and creative teaching and personal attention that great teachers so desperately want to do. Honestly, when I was in school (back in the stone-age, according to my kids), if my being promoted was solely dependent upon my passing a standardized test, I'm pretty sure I would have repeated more than one grade and possibly more than once. Yes, I would have been the 30 year old 5th grader. In my opinion, these tests are a joke. And yes, some will argue that they measure intelligence and material retention, etc., etc.,  And for some students, I am sure that is true. But not for all students.

So, why do I think that? Well, here's my story...

I was never a top student, overachiever or head of the class. I was your typical don't raise your hand, do the work and pray you got the answer right type of student. If I were musically inclined, I could have played scales with the grades on my report cards. Language Arts came easily to me and was consistently my highest grades. I loved reading, writing, spelling and grammar. I was thrilled to be either a writer or an editor for various school and college publications.  So, it was no surprise that I earned my BA in English. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Yes, I always did well in my Language Arts classes, but not every subject came that easily. Math was my demise. We had a mutual dislike aversion hate for each other. Well, I hated Math. I don't know Math's feelings towards me, but since I found it difficult to understand and it continually got harder, I'm convinced it was just doing it on purpose to punish me. As such, Math was consistently my lowest grades. We finally came to a mutual understanding, I would suffer and do only what was required of me to pass and graduate, and then when I was done it had to leave me alone.

My two constants throughout school: good grades in Language Arts and a 24-hour prayer vigil for a passing grade in Math that was usually followed by a 24-hour lecture on studying, grades, graduation and college.

There was another constant for me throughout school. That constant involved standardized testing. Beginning of the year tests, mid-year tests, end of year tests, practice college placement tests, real college placement tests...they all had the same results. Higher score in Language Arts, lower score in Math, right? WRONG! It is true, I consistently scored higher in Math than I did in Language Arts on all of the standardized tests I took. Oh, the problems this created! My teachers and parents couldn't understand why I would do so poorly in class only to score fairly well on these "special" tests that measure intelligence and retention. It was proclaimed that I was just lazy and simply not putting forth the effort in class because the tests showed that I clearly understood Math.

If someone were to put a standardized test in front of me today, I can honestly say that I don't know what the score would be. I still hate Math. I still struggle with Math. But what I can show them is how to make really cool designs with the fill-in bubbles. Which is exactly what I did when it came to the math portion on all those standardized tests.

A measure of intelligence? Not mine. A measure of creativity and pure luck? Absolutely!

1 comment: