I have never been skydiving, so if I were to argue about the potential harm from skydiving, I would be highly criticized by those who endorse skydiving, and justifiably so. The emotional effects it has on a person, and its dangers make skydiving an inherently risky behavior. But without understanding the exhilaration and adrenaline behind a successful jump, I have no leg on which to stand. That’s why I had my daughter complete standardized testing this year because I can’t wholly argue against something without partaking in it myself.
Setting the Stage
To set the stage, I left my teaching position in December. Although I have given numerous standardized tests, the Colorado Education Department just radically overhauled the state test. So I have not had the full-year standardized testing experience under the new program many teachers have had. Instead, I’ve had the parent experience, “living vicariously” through my daughter’s experience with the test. I had heard all the arguments about how off base the test was for level appropriateness. However, I hadn’t seen the test or results compared to the level to which I know my daughter belongs.
So, I opted her in for standardized testing.
Thankfully, my daughter is not an innocent first-year-tester in third grade. She will not crumble when asked to describe the author’s meaning divined from a poem meant for sixth graders. Nor is she a hardcore, willfully defiant renegade who would sleep through most standardized testing. Nor will she try to see how many ways she can annoy the proctor during the 2-hour exam. She’s a strong, independent, hard-working eighth grader who is proud of her accomplishments and wants to make others proud as well. She knows enough about herself to not wither under someone else’s glare.
I knew I could send her into testing and receive back a happy, healthy child who was still confident that she was brilliant. What surprised me most was how little she thought about the test and its questions. She never once questioned herself or got quizzical about the day’s testing in the car. She took the standardized test and continued with her life, being the happy and healthy 14-year-old I love.
Besides our discussions about the test and the questions, I opted my child into the test for the results we will get back in the next few months. Based on what I’ve heard about the test, I expect them to return and say that my child is wildly unprepared for the next grade and life. However, I know that to be untrue. If this happens, it will give me yet another leg to stand on when I go to argue the lack of validity in the latest standardized test. Having hard results in my hand for comparison’s sake will make arguments much stronger.
It will be an exciting fall and a riveting follow-up to this discussion when the results are finally released. However, I’m glad I chose to make my child take the standardized tests so that I can walk into a discussion with hard proof to back up my arguments when I decide to discuss the harmful and misguided standardized tests. It should only be a matter of time.
In the fall, little to no mention was made of the previous year’s standardized testing. It felt like the schools did not put much weight into the testing or the results. The test was changed again in just a few more years.
Standardized testing is a summative assessment, but if you’d like to know about formative assessment, check out this post on the topic.