What Test Scores Never Show

Melissa Anders Routzahn teaches in the Crystal Lake School District in the Chicago suburbs.  Following is a post she made on her Facebook page that vividly spells out why education is much, much more than just test scores and data points.  And why the manta of “run schools like a business” is only used by people who are clueless about education.  It is also a great illustration of how misguided the RAISE/PREP bill really is and why lawmakers need to always check with educators before trying to come up with laws about education policy.

“Today I administered a standardized test to a group of third graders. One boy raised his hand on the first question and asked if I could explain it to him. I apologized and explained that I wasn’t allowed to help him, and I told him to just make his best guess if he didn’t know how to answer. He finished the entire test in less than 15 minutes (it was supposed to take an hour), just picking random answers and typing in “I don’t know” when the question called for a longer response.

“After logging out, he got some pieces of paper, folded them in half and made himself a little book. He wrote “Life on the Mississippi” on the front and drew a detailed picture of a boat with people fishing on it. On the back he wrote a blurb about how his book would be based on the adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which he then told me was a REALLY good book that he’d just finished), and on the inside cover he wrote a note about the author: “John is nine years old. When he was six, he hated reading, but now he loves it!”

“He had a table of contents listing what all his chapters would be about, and he showed me where he was going to write about how he got his inspiration for his story. He spent the rest of the session writing and drawing pictures while the other kids finished the test.

“Now, that kid is going to get a terrible score on his test. He’s going to look like he doesn’t know anything. That score is going to bring down the average of our school and make it look “less desirable” when they print the overall school scores in the newspaper. That score is going to make his classroom teacher look like she’s incompetent. But it’s pretty obvious to me and to other teachers in the school that that kid has something going for him and that we’re all doing something right. I know there’s a place for standardized assessments, but there’s no way they can capture the great things going on in our schools, and there’s no way they can possibly define an individual student.”

 

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