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Monday, August 12, 2013

Too Much Testing?

Lessons Learned…
Numbers Alone No Nourishment Provide

In education today, as well as in most other areas, it all comes down to this; numbers. Scores. Metrics. Performance Data. These numbers drive funding, define success, delineate projections, and determine accountability for students, teachers, school districts, and states. As numbers are crunched, compared, and evaluated on flow charts and bar graphs presented in large beige-colored conference rooms to suit-clad metrics philosophers, perhaps it is easy to forget that these numbers represent children filled with dreams and wonder, anxious to explore the world and imagine and discover answers to challenging questions. States, districts, teachers, and students are staggering under the inscrutable weight of cold, hard continuous metric achievement, which unquestionably demands the classroom focus to be statistical. The highly-pressured demands of this frequently result in unethical choices made in survival-type desperation. Unfortunately, although true learning cannot be quantified as such nor contained in neat statistical, numerical boxes, it seems it has become reduced to this very thing. Teaching to the test is not learning. Teaching to the test inspires no imaginative and possibility-filled divergent thinking, clever invention, or mind wandering creativity. Teaching to the test opens no new windows of discovery, but rather denotes a more “shoveling in of information” style of fact dissemination. As there must be some sort of balance in all things in life, there appears to be no balance in this now. The metrics pendulum has swung to an unhealthy, inappropriate extreme with respect to educating children and is in dire need of honest, immediate scrutiny and re-prioritization if we are to truly nurture and nourish tomorrow’s hope.