Thursday, April 14, 2016

Are Standardized Tests Ruining Our Kids?






Natalie started standardized tests this week and I'll be honest: I don't like them. I don't like how they make kids nervous. I don't like how they take up so much school time. I don't like how teachers have to try and make it exciting for kids when they could be learning something else. (And let me say here that I appreciate all that teachers do--they should be paid so much more for all they have to put up with.)

Mostly, I don't like when I see kids terrified over doing poorly.

My daughter? When she started third grade she told me, "If I don't do well on the tests, I don't get to go to fourth grade." She chewed on her lower lip. "What if I don't get to go to fourth grade?"

She's not the only petrified kid. I see others in a panic and it hurts my heart.

In Oklahoma, it's true: a child can be held back if they doesn't do well on the standardized tests--HOWEVER--teachers are able to step in and speak up for the student if they feel they are ready for the next grade. But I heard last year many kids were held back due to these tests. Some kids even transferred out of their current school and into another because they were embarrassed. I also believe teenagers in high schools can't even get a diploma if they don't pass these tests.

This is not okay.

Yes, I completely understand that a child should not be placed in the next grade if he or she is not ready. But basing a lot of it off some standardized test? No.

Natalie is not the best test taker. She does get nervous. She does worry about not finishing in time. Because of this, when she takes her STAR reading tests, she's on the low end. I believe she finally made it to grade level, according to a computerized test.

BUT.

Her grades are mostly As and Bs and high Cs (79.) I was actually told if she didn't improve her STAR reading test that she could possibly be held back.

Even though her grades are all passing. Even though her regular in-class test scores are passing. I asked if she needed to go to the tutoring the school offers before and after school and I'm told she doesn't need it. So I'm left baffled. I know lots of other parents who are baffled.

She will be going to fourth grade, mark my words. I know this because we are moving to Texas. In Texas, a parent can speak up if the school tries to hold them back. So if Natalie's Oklahoma school tries to say that her STAR test is low and that her standardized test scores are low so she should be held back...I plan on showing her report cards to Texas and proving that no, she understands what's happening. She even recently got an award for bringing UP her grades.

So far Natalie seems to be doing okay with the standardized tests. I know some parents opt their kids out of taking them. If Natalie ever gets completely frazzled, I might consider it. Her teacher sent home some papers asking if parents could write encouraging notes. I was tempting to write something snarky ("these tests suck"), but in the end, I wrote these:


Do I think standardized tests are ruining our kids? Maybe not. Ruining is a strong word. But they are hurting their self-esteem and adding to a list of their worries. When they first start these tests in the third grade the games and excitement the teachers use to make the tests seem fun work, but as the students get older, then what? I know many teachers despise these tests. When I share my distaste for them on my social media accounts, I've had many message me saying they agree, but they don't have a choice.

For now I wish my daughter luck on the test. I tell her to do her best and if the results aren't what she hoped, that it's okay. I remind her that she's smart. And capable of anything.

I remind her that a standardized test does not truly measure her knowledge.



28 comments:

  1. I have zero experience with this so far, so I could only take from my own experience. I don't know if they are ruining kids, but they surely aren't telling the whole story. I don't like that aspect! And of course, everything I struggled with as a kid, and worked so hard with, do I use any of it today? Any of it??

    ReplyDelete
  2. Zachary would definitely be held back based on standardized tests! Here we take tests in the beginning and end of the year and the improvement is measured, which I guess is a good thing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am an awful test taker! I did poorly on the ACT because I was so nervous. Some people just aren't great test takers and I agree with you I think it's a horrible way to measure students. We always had the tests and didn't even get the results until the next school year...how int he world is that supposed to help us?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I never stressed over these tests because I knew if my children seen that I was worried, they would worry too. Instead, I chose testing week as the week to get up early and prepare elaborate breakfasts for them. I also told them that the tests actually were to test to see if the teacher was teaching everything she was supposed to. Two of my children are now 25 and 20 and they still laugh that they were probably the ONLY kids who looked forward to testing week because of the breakfasts!! lol

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am an awful test taker and always have been! The high school I graduated from you test grade was 70% of your overall grade so that just added on top of the stress I already felt leading up to test day.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My son is in fourth grade. The testing doesn't seem to faze him at all. However, one of the little ones in my carpool was a mess. On the last day, I told her that she survived her first testing week, and she was in tears as she said she hoped she passed so she could go to fourth grade. She's a smart little one, and it broke my heart to see her so stressed. We don't even get the scores back until the next year, so I don't know how they would even use the scores to try and hold someone back. I tried to reassure her, and I know her mom did too, but she was still that stressed. I just wish we could remember that these are little kids, and one test will not measure everyone equally.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sure these are challenging for our children. They are meant to be. Don't get me wrong, I never want to see a child in anguish or pain. They are there as only 1 measure of their competency in a given subject in a moment in time - not their whole being. But what I want us to consider is that these tests have another, almost more important purpose - to test the system in which our children are in. If we don't have the tests, we don't get to see how well or how poorly the school and districts are doing with our children. If we know that and the results are low, we have evidence in the data to push for better, on behalf of our children. And who wouldn't want that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd rather they base if a child needs help based on grades. Obviously a D or F means they need extra help.

      Delete
  8. I don't know exactly how it works in the US, but I know in the UK the test system sucks. I spent all my time at school being taught how to pass exams, which I was good at. I came out with good grades, went to sixth form and Uni but even now I have a very specific knowledge set and there are things I should know, for example I did will in Geography but my knowledge of locations is awful

    ReplyDelete
  9. OMGosh....I just want give you a "high five"!! PREACH!!
    My oldest is taking the standardize testing as we "speak". I DISPISE it too! He isn't a good test taker either, and he gets VERY nervous! On Monday morning when they started, he was up at 4am worrying about these damn test!
    My husband and I told him to do the best he can, but don't let it get the best of him! We told him that they DO NOT determine if he goes to 6th grade or not, so I'm not really worried about it! All the test do in PA is evaluate the teacher, and get the school more grant money.
    I would opt out of the testing (because we can do that), if it wasn't such a PITA for me...LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Such bs that's what kids are still judged on. We had them when I was a kid too. I believe it was the California Aptitude Test. It's a studied and verified fact that women do not perform well on standardized tests and multiple choice tests. It pissed me off that you had to take the LSAT to get into law school and all these schools made such a huge deal over the score. I did just fine on it, but I would have thought my 4.0 would have meant more to the admissions office than a test I took on ONE Saturday. So stupid. Anyhoo, AGREED. I hope Natalie rocks those tests!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm very lucky that neither of my kids freak out over tests. But I think our testing system is extremely flawed. Our teachers spend more time preparing kids for tests than they spend time teaching. It's really sad and I feel bad for the teachers and students. The teachers are only following instructions from the administrators so they can keep their jobs. And then they spend all this time preparing for the tests for the testing system to fail. #TNNotReady

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think these tests are pointless! All of these tests are testing their ability on that day and maybe they are having a bad day and not trying as hard as they would if they were having a good day. there are too many variables that go into taking tests like that.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As a teacher, I find standardized tests sad. They do not allow students to showcase their knowledge or the things that really matter. Remind your daughter to breathe, do her best and know that these tests do not define her!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Some kids take tests really well and some don't. That's a part of standardized testing we can't do anything about. I hate all the stress it gives kids, but I'm glad that the teachers can speak up on their behalf.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is our first year of dealing with standardized testing, too (also in TX) and I feel the same way you do. I never thought it would be much of an issue because my daughter has always done pretty well on tests, and we've make a concerted effort not to put any pressure on her to do well. But it doesn't matter...the pressure is coming from the school! She's never seemed worried about anything school-related until she came home last week acting stressed. It was because she'd gotten the results of her practice STARR test and was feeling bad because she didn't ace it. Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My son goes to Montessori school, and so he doesn't have to do standardized testing. But there is some kind of testing for some grades. He is in 1st and doesn't even know the difference. I think he actually likes to get to fill out a worksheet for once! I remember just liking filling in all the circles on the tests. I felt like I was getting to color. I do know that although my son isn't the smartest in his class by any means, he might be the most confidence. He is proud of his hard work, and I love that. Would standardized tests ruin him? I don't know either. Ugh. It's hard being a mom in this world!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I also don't agree with the emphasis placed on standardized tests, not only in school but for professional licensing as well. I don't believe that a standardized test can accurately measure how well a person will perform in the next grade or in a certain profession. Some people are great test takers and, unfortunately, others are penalized for not being so.

    Tricia
    www.thetriciacollective.com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am against standardized testing. I feel like my children's grades are an accurate indicator of how they are doing in school. They do not need the added pressure of yet another big test to worry about. They test them enough as it is. I hate the learning time preparing for this test takes away from. They have to take a practice test to prepare to take the real test. Just teach them already! If you want an accurate test you shouldn't be doing all these practice tests to refresh their memories, if you taught it well, they would remember it. Anyhow I opted both of my children out of ALL the practice tests and the standardized test this year. They will get to relax, and read, while the majority of their classmates are taking the tests. It was super easy to opt out. I just filled out an opt-out form that I found online for our state and turned it into the school office, and I was done! I live in California so we can opt out without any penalities to our kids. Yay!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Kind of just seems like kids are taught how to pass these exams and not much else...! But argh, I hate standardized tests, I really don't think it measures a kids intelligence at all!! Good luck to Natalie, she rock them!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have had to be an advocate for my child since 2nd grade when we found out she was dyselxic. Testing is hard for her especially timed tests. She is really smart but this kind of evaluation does not capture her true knowledge and I think that is true of a lot of other children as well. I realize schools need to be accountable but the means in which they are asking schools to prove they are teaching, doesn't even capture the real scope of what they are doing. Its not fair to the schools or the kids. Earlier this semester I had to argue about getting Emmy out of a tutoring class for Math that took her away from Choir which she excels at. I asked how the class was being taught if it was using a program directed to her dyeslxia they said no its based on THE TEST. I flipped my lid. No way was she being pulled out of class to be taught to the test. I despise standardized testing.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My son is in Kindergarten, and I don't think they start them yet. I think that's next year here in NJ. But I'm nervous for him. I mean, my son, with his HOMEWORK is terrified of doing "badly." Lord knows when a standardized test rolls around he's going to be a basket case.

    ReplyDelete
  22. It's ruining our whole school system. My husband is a teacher and all they do now is prepare to give the tests, and do paperwork to submit to the state about how they are preparing, what they are doing, etc... they don't get to teach much anymore, it's all test preparation. It's really stupid in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I completely agree that they aren't a true reflection of what a child knows. There's so much focus on test preparation which, in my opinion, makes it more about cramming lots of knowledge in there quickly so they'll get a good score. There's less time to focus on how to apply the knowledge - which means that it won't stick longterm.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Test anxiety is a real thing, I know, I have it. There is nothing more frustrating as an adult than knowing I know how to do something but blow the test because I am so worried about blowing the test, so I can't imagine how it drives little kids crazy. My step daughter is 12 and she gets so darn nervous when it is STAR time. I hate it. She is a straight A student and she shouldn't have to spend a week worrying about testing. Sadly, it is the way of the world now. Employers do it to adults and nothing to me means less than a personality test of standard test being the holy grail for hiring. I quit applying to companies like that because I have a choice too...sadly kids don't.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Our first experience with standardized tests was a nightmare. My daughter's teacher told the class if they didn't do well on the tests, it means they are not smart. It also meant that they weren't going to move on to the next grade and if they did, she would recommend them for special ed. She also told them if they didn't do well on the test, the teacher would lose her job. At the public school she was in, they were test every other week in reading and math. It was ridiculous. Most kids could care less about if the teacher would lose her job or not. My daughter was throwing up over it. We pulled our daughter out of public school at the end of the year and put her in private school. I know it's not ideal for everyone and we have had to give up a lot, like moving, a new car etc. but our daughter's mental health is more important. Our school only has one standardized test a year and the teachers don't make a big deal out of it. They just tell the kids to do the best they can and it doesn't show them how smart they are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, if it ever got bad, we'd consider private school as well.

      Delete
  26. Another great reason to be an unschooler. No tests!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for the comment!

Share This

 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...