Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite comments of '10: GPC on testing

(Is it bad to give children frequent tests?)


Too many educators are critical of grades and testing because they are mistakenly concerned about competition or hurt self-esteem. I have always found this odd. Even, as a child, I always saw grades and tests as an indication of how well I was doing and how much more I needed to do. My self-esteem was never harmed. I never felt like I was in competition with other students. 

I remember I used to always fail spelling tests in 4th grade. The teacher stepped in to help and with extra work, I started to score 100% on all of my tests. If I hadn't been tested and graded, I would never have know how I was doing. It would have been hard for the teacher to know what my weaknesses were and step in to help. 

I'm wary of high stakes state and national tests for young children but I think regular classroom testing is a necessity. I would also like to see multiple tests required for graduation like most other countries do. It creates a strong incentive to learn and work hard.

1 comment:

FedUpMom said...

Maybe, but you have to be careful.

I have seen tests used badly, and they can be very damaging. For instance, imagine a situation where the teacher doesn't explain the material, and the child then flunks the test. Then the teacher scolds and humiliates the child for flunking the test. It's a recipe for depression.

I remember my daughter's fifth-grade math teacher showing me one of the quizzes she flunked, on associative vs. transitive vs. commutative proprties. He said in a completely puzzled tone of voice, "for some reason, a lot of kids failed this one!"

It turned out about a third of the class had failed the quiz (this was a handpicked "accelerated" class of the brightest kids). That didn't make him rethink his teaching, or give a review, or anything remotely helpful. He just told the kids they should have studied harder.

I think the kids who passed got a lot of outside help from parents and tutors. I don't know how they could have done it otherwise.