Gobbledygook and useless test numbers

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We have become an innumerate society. Because of this, we tolerate conditions that ought to seem insupportable. Annual state achievement tests represent one example supporting my contention.

In our lower-scoring schools, we learn something from our 8th grade state achievement test, yes — but not nearly as much as we would learn if we gave our students a test reflecting their actual level of achievement. That test might tell us where the gaps in their knowledge are located, so that we could teach them the missing pieces in their academic puzzles. The 8th grade state test just tells us they are far behind. We knew that from the get-go. What our lower-scoring schools could use, if we must spend all these days testing, is information on exactly where students have fallen behind and where they need to focus. In the case of our lowest students, we learn virtually nothing from state tests since all these students are doing is guessing anyway.

I feel as if I have hammered the evils of indiscriminate testing into the ground with a sledgehammer. Simultaneously, I have been hammering the connected concept of recognizing students as individuals . Unfortunately, I can’t abandon this topic yet. We seem to be moving away from more-appropriate tests as we head toward the Common Core.