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The words standardized testing make me cringe. Truly. We are living in a standardized-testing-obsessed society, and it only gets worse every year. Our culture is more concerned with “standards” and assessment of those standards than it is with deep, genuine learning. In this age of teaching to the test, the act of learning – genuine, joyful learning- is lost. There is a race to check off skills before June; depth of knowledge is sacrificed.
Folks, I am a school psychologist. I used to assess for a living. I see true value in assessment when it is well planned, for a specific purpose, and when it is infrequent. Nowadays, however, children are often assessed monthly. Time is valuable and, in my opinion, time spent doing frequent assessments could be better used to benefit our nation’s young people. I could go on and on and on, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll present a list of things more useful than filling in bubbles.
I’d Rather _________ Than Fill in Test Bubbles:
There are a multitude of activities that could occur in our schools that are arguably more useful than filling in those bubbles with a number two pencil. #lesstests, folks! In no particular order, I’ll list a few.
More than one third of the children in this country are overweight or obese. Obesity is linked to a plethora of health issues, from heart disease to diabetes to cancers to mental health concerns and joint issues.
I’d rather enjoy nature than fill in test bubbles.
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv is one of my favorite books and I wish every parent in this country would read it. There is so much to be learned from nature! In this book, Louv shares a growing body of research that children (and adults!) benefit from exposure to nature. This book has spurred the Children and Nature Movement, and a number of nature-themed schools are popping up around the country.
I’d rather serve others than fill in test bubbles.
Community service promotes kindness, empathy, social skills, cooperation, and builds community and yet no one seems to do it until they are filling out their college application. The world needs more kindness in it, folks. Kindness not only makes others feel good, but it is also good for you.
I’d rather create than fill in test bubbles.
No Child Left Behind has certainly left the arts in the dust! While I believe math and reading to be important, I also believe the arts are important. I once interned at the Boston Arts Academy – what an amazing program! I wish all children could have such a wonderful arts experience. In our family, we make time for the arts daily.
I’d rather engage in STEM than fill in test bubbles.
Careers in the “STEM” fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are booming, and research has indicated that adding the arts are also important (STEAM). There are oodles of programs that focus on STEAM: the maker movement, tinkering, Destination Imagination, Odyssey of the Mind, Robotics, and the list goes on.
I’d rather read than fill out test bubbles.
Our schools spend a lot of time assessing reading, but do they work to instill a lifelong love of reading? I’d argue that they do not. I’ve gushed about my favorite parenting book, The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Reading aloud daily- until your children have left for college- is arguably the best thing you can do for your child’s future success. In addition to that, in a perfect world teachers would have time to not only read aloud to their pupils but also to provide sustained silent reading time for all students. Children need words, they need stories, they need to have positive relationships with books before they will love to read independently. Once you love to read, the world is your oyster. You can learn anything.
I’d rather write than fill in test bubbles.
In this age of testing, no one is taking the time to write. Incoming freshmen are arriving at college unprepared. The best way to improve writing is through proper instruction and practice, in addition to plenty of reading. If we want our high school graduates to be able to write, we need to encourage writing.
I’d rather learn to code than fill in bubbles.
Did you know that computer science careers are booming? That, over the next ten years they will be one of the fastest growing and highest paying careers? Leo just started using code.org at the beginning of January. He’s already completed over two hours of code and he is having a blast. There are plenty of other options to learn to code, and it would be awesome to see more women in the computer science field.
I’d rather learn valuable life skills than fill in test bubbles.
I want my children to enter the world with valuable life skills, including but not limited to: social skills, economic skills (budgeting, money management, investment), verbal communication skills (for presentations, interviews, debate, and negotiation), skills related to executive functioning, study skills, time management, understanding of self, understanding of healthy behaviors, and skills related to daily living (self care, running a household, sewing, changing a tire, etc.).
Learning for Learning’s Sake
In all honesty, I would rather almost anything over filling out test bubbles. The other day I wrote a post called Learning for Learning’s Sake: Beyond the Grade in which I discussed how I played the grading game throughout my school career, rather than experience genuine, joyful learning. I am so incredibly grateful that Leo is not playing the grading game; I’m relieved that there is no test looming at the end of the tunnel, impacting the way he learns today. He is involved in genuine, joyful learning daily. I wish this were true for the rest of our nation’s children.
What about you guys? Do you think there should be #lesstests? What would you add to this list? What would you rather do than fill out test bubbles? Share here!
Do you want to read what other folks thing about standardized testing? Click the image below!
*FTC Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Basically, if you click on these links and make a purchase, I will receive small commission (we’re talking cents, not dollars). I would never endorse a product for a few cents. We recommend what we love here, folks.
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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