Testing

Evaluation is defined as a systematic determination of someone’s merit, worth and significance, using criteria governed by a set of standards.

Unfortunately, the standards leave some of us out.

In high school, my guidance counselor screamed at me after receiving an incredibly low ACT score.

“You are an underachiever,” he yelled, shaking the walls as he bellowed at my face of stone. And graduating with honors years later, my final meeting with the wonderful dean at West Virginia State College was met with, “I’m glad when they’re wrong.”

Standardized testing is one of the measurements by which we are judged. According to research, the U.S. spends about $1.7B a year on standardized tests.

Is too much money at stake to change the system?

A 2015 study by the Council of the Great City Schools in Washington, D.C., at the request of its board of directors, reveals the average student in America’s big-city public schools will take roughly 112 mandatory standardized tests between pre-kindergarten and high school graduation. It also reads, the average of roughly eight standardized tests per year consumes between 20 and 25 hours each school year.

Also, four out of 10 districts reported having to wait between two and four months before receiving their state test results, meaning the results had limited utility to inform instructional practices.

“Everyone has some culpability in how much testing there is and how redundant and uncoordinated it is — Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, states, local school systems and even individual schools and teachers,” the council’s Executive Director Michael Casserly said in the press release. “Everyone must play a role in improving this situation.”

I will joyfully play a role employing such measurements as: the rate at which folks can think on their feet; the number of tasks folks can perform at one time; and the ability to cooperate to complete tasks.

Jack Schneider, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, a public research university said in an April 22 article on Techlearning.com, “What the research tells us about standardized testing is that there’s a strong relationship between demographic variables like student race, family income, parental educational attainment and students’ standardized test scores. School is not the primary influence on student academic achievement as measured by standardized test scores. Out-of-school factors play a greater role. And therefore the use of standardized tests to hold schools accountable doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense.”

How much would it cost to provide alternative forms of evaluation? Would colleges consider assessing students seeking admission in a different way?

And, if we are trained to think about the predicted questions, is other learning omitted?

I get it is the tool of the day, and standards must be met. But never will I ever fit into the box as it is entirely too small and confining. And while that once felt horrible, coming with the heaping judgement — the years have taught better lessons.

Hoping for a better way; and that is all.

News Editor Carolyn Harmon can be reached at charmon@rrdailyherald.com or 252-410-7058.

News Editor Carolyn Harmon can be reached at charmon@rrdailyherald.com or 252-410-7058.