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© 2019 by Joyce Fetteroll

What about testing so I know how well they're doing?

How well would you test?

 

We trust that tests test what we believe they test. If a child gets a 100% on a 6th grade test it suggests they're halfway along the path of school knowledge. A test is like a GPS location indicating your child's position on the knowledge path. If they get a 50% they've fallen behind their peers on the course.

 

Heather M: I actually took a practice test myself for my son's level since its our first year, I wanted to see exactly what he would be facing. Honestly, I'm pretty intelligent and I only got 50 percent correct on the 5th grade test! It was so irrelevant to real life and I was confused. I'm opting not to open the results [of his state-required test] either at this point. (4 August 2015)

 

If you, as an adult, score a 50% on a 5th grade test what does that mean? If it is test of absolute location on the knowledge path, it means you know half as much as a 5th grader should. That can't be right.

 

Or does it mean that half of what 6th graders are expected to spit back for a test is so irrelevant to life that you didn't need it? That what's taught in school relates to school but not to adult life?

 

 

Do you happen to remember the link for that website or what the name was? At the age of 8 my dd was reading at a 5th grade level and I am curious to know how she has progressed. Thanks!

 

What if she isn't reading 2 levels beyond her age any more? What if she's at grade level?

 

Or what if she's reading below grade level? What will you do? How will you feel?

 

It's comforting to know our kids are beyond some arbitrary measurement. But even though it's totally natural for them to be behind, it's unsettling to find out they are. The artificial measurement is like a ball and chain that ties our thinking and our actions to the school. We can't not look at our children differently than before the test if the results say they're "ahead" or "behind".

 

Kids need to read at grade level in school because the textbooks are written "at grade level". In real life, what's important isn't grade level. It's whether the content meets their needs. (If I'm learning some broad topic I often choose children's books to begin.)

 

If we're taking a leisurely whimsical ramble through the woods and realize someone set up milestones for a "proper" walk, what would be the reason for checking our "progress" on the milestones if our walk was suiting our needs? If we recognize that what we discover and explore on our walk is what is meaningful and someone else's milestones are meaningless, then there's no reason to check our progress against someone else's. Our progress is how well our exploration meets our needs. If we decide someone else's milestones are important -- and why would we check if we didn't think there was some importance to them? -- then how possible is it to continue meeting our own needs without being conscious of there being a "right" or "more important" or "better" agenda?

 

 

I think I've talked about how I have tried to get Adam to LIKE tests. I keep telling him tests are great because they make you look good (that was my experience -- I test better than I am -- I LOVED tests). And he said yes but tests can make you look BAD too can't they?

 

And he has a right to feel very differently about tests. And TV shows. And math. And broccoli. And bike riding. And Stephen King.

 

I really do like to see where he stands in comparison with all the other little 9-10 yos in the country.

 

Think of the world divided into column A and column B. Column A is what's taught for the test. Column B is everything else in the world. Tests test only what the child knows from column A. They don't show what the child knows instead in column B. A child could know 100% of column B and 10% of column A and the test would say he's stupid. But a child could know 100% of column A and nothing from column B and look really smart but be really dumb.

 

A test only shows how well someone takes a test. It says nothing about who that child is. Einstein didn't test well!

 

IS IT TRUE THAT EINSTEIN WAS A LOUSY STUDENT?

 

In some ways, yes. When he was very young, Einstein’s parents worried that he had a learning disability because he was very slow to learn to talk. (He also avoided other children and had extraordinary temper tantrums.) When he started school, he did very well-he was a creative and persistent problem-solver-but he hated the rote, disciplined style of the teachers at his Munich school, and he dropped out when he was 15. Then, when he took the entrance examination for a polytechnic school in Zurich, he flunked. (He passed the math part, but failed the botany, zoology and language sections.) Einstein kept studying and was admitted to the polytechnic institute the following year, but even then he continued to struggle: His professors thought that he was smart but much too pleased with himself, and some doubted that he would graduate. He did, but not by much-which is how the young physicist found himself working in the Swiss Patent Office instead of at a school or university.

 

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