Every year in the public schools, we would administer a screening assessment to determine where a child was in terms of reading readiness, math, and social interaction. The children are allowed to play in a large area with toys until they were called for the screening. I remember a year when I was administering the reading assessment section to a sweet faced cooperative little boy. He sat patiently and answered all my questions. When I got to the question where I have to ask "Can you show me where I start reading on the page?", the child looked up at me in alarm and responded "Don't you know?" I couldn't help but break out in laughter.
Out of the mouths of babes.................
Some screening like the assessment above that I participated in was very appropriate. That screening device gave me lot of helpful information in regards to reading and math readiness, social interaction, and fine and gross motor skills. I can't say the same for some of the other tests that I saw administered over the years in the public schools.
I saw some colleagues get angry and frustrated as end of the year testing approached. Many would literally be reduced to giving lots of "practice" tests. In other words, they would teach to the tests. The major problem with that is that the child may be able to store the information in short term memory but it never gets to long term memory. In other words, they don't really learn the skill because testing became the instruction. Test scores become inflated so that the school gets higher scores but the child is the unfortunate loser in all of this. Do the tests actually measure what the policy makers originally intended? I would have preferred to see education set content standards and align curriculum and assessment to them.
I know I sound like a broken record but that is what I love about the private Christian school I currently work in. The upper grades do administer an end of the year test, but like all of the other grades, we spend the year teaching our students, free of having to implement "new initiatives" before we ever learned the prior ones. Our focus is on using assessment in daily instruction. We use the information from testing to aid our instruction and hopefully result in better teaching.
What is your opinion of all of the testing done in schools?