Monday, March 12, 2012

ISAT Testing

Standardized Test
Standardized Test (Photo credit: biologycorner)
ISAT testing takes place this week for my 7th grader.  For the public school kids in Chicago, this is a test that can steer their future in scary ways.  The standardized scores will be one of the factors that are used to determine who can even apply to be in the "good" public high schools in 9th grade.  My son is smart and is lucky to already be in a junior high that feeds into a good high school.  The intense pressure on his ISAT isn't as big an issue.

When I was a kid, taking the Iowa Basics, I used to see the tests as an interesting  bit of information, the score that told me how I matched up to all the other kids in the country.  I was fortunate enough that my scores were always a bit higher than the averages.  What would I have learned from the tests if I had scored lower than average?  If I look back on those scores and my adult success, I think there are an awful lot of things that never showed up in my IOWA score.  That in fact, have never been quantified.

I wish we could score our children on how emotionally expressive they are or how they show concern for other people.  Maybe we could come up with some questions on how to use your body to accomplish specific tasks or how to create an object that evokes a specific feeling.  Do you think there will be day when these tests, that determine which doors will open and which will close, will measure perseverance, humor, common sense, or kindness?  My son will take some tests this week.  They won't evaluate ANY of the things that make him so amazing.  His success on these tests and in school in general is important, because of the power that the tests have been given.  They are important because they can limit his opportunities and his own idea of himself.

Future employers, partners, friends, and neighbors want people who are engaging, likable, "play nice in the sandbox", are dependable, and honest.  School can test all they want but will never be able to evaluate what makes a person someone that you actually want to be with. 
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