The Absurdity of High Stakes Testing

All of we humans make mistakes. We have great days, good days, and some days that are variations of not so good. We preach the mantra that all children are different; they have individual strengths and weaknesses. They have a variety of learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing.They learn at different speeds–just like some toddlers learn to walk before others. Given these proven facts, how can we expect every child to score in an acceptable range on ONE test for ALL children. Absurd.

Research experts remind us that tests must be both reliable and valid. Reliability and validity can not be determined in one or two years. It’s a long, arduous study over time. For example, if a third grader takes the Arizona State test, he must continue to take the same progressive version of that test through 12th grade to prove/disprove academic growth over time. However, the glitch occurs if midway through a child’s schooling the test is changed from one manufacturer to another. Due to this change the scores can not be compared or be said to be both reliable and valid. Absurd to suggest otherwise.

Finally, test questions can have more than one right answer, depending on one’s perspective and/or experience. For example, what is the shortest month of the year? While most of us would immediately say February, to some the answer is May. The question is far too vague to have one correct answer. Imagine three pictures: a plant growing in a pot, a cactus abloom in the desert, and a head of cabbage. The question is: which one takes the least water? Now, some would argue a cactus, while students from a farming background would easily know it was the head of cabbage. Which one is the right answer? Absurd.

High stakes testing should be merely one indicator of a child’s progress. By no means should it be the only indicator–absurd.

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