This is a letter to every student who has taken a standardized test, from a teacher (and a mom), who wants you to know the truth.
Much has been made about the state of our educational system these days…and the news hasn’t been good. We’re not keeping up with other countries. We’re lagging in our adoption of technology, and we haven’t mastered the math and science concepts necessary to win the nauseating, never-ending Race To Nowhere.
To solve this, policy-makers have decided that testing is necessary to monitor not only your progress, but that of your teachers and administrators, too.
They are partly right.
If you graduate from high school, and you’re not able to read, write, and understand math concepts capably, then we have utterly failed you. You deserve to go to school in a safe place where you can grow and learn. Schools need to be accountable, so that when you cross the stage in cap and gown, the diploma you grasp really, truly means something. It should be a symbol that you have met the standards set for you, and a testimony to the dedication of your teachers (and parents!) who guided you through the process.
So, kids…testing IS necessary. However, just like your grandma says, you CAN have too much of a good thing. We have descended to a place where testing is everything. And sadly, it seems we may be headed to an abyss where testing is the ONLY thing. Many of you are beginning to wonder if your test scores are the most important information about you. And,students, if you believe that, we’ve failed you again.
Who you are, and who you will become, cannot be captured in scaled scores or percentiles…
You are creative, and funny, and insightful.
You’re an actor. A lacrosse player. An artist. An entrepreneur.
When you’re faced with a tough assignment, you persist, even when it feels like you’ll never finish.
And when you saw the child alone on the swings, you invited her to play foursquare with you and your friends. No one ever asked her to play before that moment. Did you know that?
A test can’t measure sensitivity.
No test can quantify the richness of your soul or the lyrical melody of your contagious giggles. No standardized measure can predict your ability to find joy in the midst of pain, or your willingness to show love to those who seem unlovable.
And even though we’ve armed you with No. 2 pencils, and calculators and response books, the tools you’ll really need to succeed are within you…
So take heart, students…and take courage. You DO have what it takes. Sit up straight. Keep your eyes on your own paper. Do your best job. Check your work.
And then remember this most important truth:
You are so much more than just a score.