It’s a Love-Hate Relationship

Ahhh…the standardized test.  All but one of our first graders this year met the end-of-the-year benchmarks set for them based on standardized testing.  Awesome, right?  Looking at their numbers in black and white, it would be easy to pat ourselves on the back and say what an amazing school we have filled with super teachers who could help these kids accomplish this.  The U.S. government would be so proud.  And I was initially.  But our school is small.  And kids are known well-beyond what a black and white score on a piece of paper says about them.  I know, for instance, that while on that particular day of testing Hope was having a really good memory day,  it doesn’t usually work that well for her.  Even after two years of working on things like initial and final sounds, it’s still hit and miss for her…daily.  This year’s testing date happened to fall on a “hit” day.  So will she now no longer qualify for the extra help I know she really needs?  Because she scored above the magical benchmarking number?  Will she need to prove her failuer all over again?  Do I report the score with enthusiasm to her parents and build their hope that maybe she isn’t in need of specialized services?  Or what about someone like Danny?  Does it matter that his score is above the minimum requirement if everyone else in his class has a score twice that of his?  Won’t he still struggle to keep up with them?  Won’t the exceptional performances of others make his average performance appear to be behind?    Grrr…these are just some of the things that can’t be addressed by placing a “cut off” score on children.  While I can be happy and proud to report that so many kids have passed the required bottom mark, I think it bears false witness to who they really are as individual learners.  One number can’t tell you who a child is.  Thankfully, at our school, because it is so small and kids’ needs are very intimately known and understood, we realize that and can continue to advocate and push for what their needs are beyond these standardized numbers.  But what about other kids out there who aren’t in a place to be so well-known and are just able to get past that mark because it was a “hit” day for them?  And maybe worse, what about the kids having a “miss” day?  Will the results of standardized tests alone help us provide kids (ALL kids) with what they really need?  Or are they just a way for us to pat ourselves on the back  (or point the finger of shame)?  Yay that we passed…but boo that I know the scores are not a true reflection of our skills and needs.  Err…wait…is that a yay, too?!?!?  Curses on you, standardized test!  Curses, I say!!!!

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