Before I begin, let me just say that I love homeschooling. Truly. In my opinion, there is no better option for my children’s education. Unfortunately, though, around this time every year, I tend to get a bit cranky.
After spending the past nine months learning in freedom with my children, the time draws near for us to complete our annual homeschool obligations for the state- namely, evaluations and standardized testing. Since I happen to have an awesome evaluator, the evaluation doesn’t really bother me. What really fires me up, though, is the fact that, in our state, homeschooled students are forced to take standardized tests in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades.
I’m well aware that the public education system is obsessed with tests. You’d have to live under a rock for that to be news to you. What baffles me most is that, while it’s clear to most sensible people that this testing environment is hurting our children, not only do they continue on with it each and every year, but some states (like mine) force it upon families (also like mine) who have nothing at all to do with the public school down the street.
After sitting here today for the better part of six hours, watching my daughter suffer more stress in this one day than she feels all year (all because of a test), I’m absolutely compelled to get this off my chest.
8 Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are the Bane of My Existence
1. They’re pointless.
These tests aren’t an accurate measure of learning. All they are is a reflection of who tests well, who memorizes well (only to forget later), and who guesses well. Want to know how a student is really doing? Talk to them. Interact with them. Focus more on the child than on their stanine scores.
Sadly enough, I know that will never happen in our schools, because these tests serve one purpose for the bureaucracy- they give an adequate method to number the herd.
2. They’re irrelevant.
Here’s a math question for the makers of the tests-
What percentage of your questions will help these students get ahead in the world?
Oh, never mind. I made it too easy, because the answer is 0.
How is sitting in a chair for 45 minutes reading about what formed Coney Island, or how chimpanzees behave in their native environments ever going to benefit a single one of these students?
I’ll give you one guess.
3. They’re too long.
I shouldn’t even complain about this one because at least my kids can complete their tests in one day. The kids in our school district spend weeks on their tests. Weeks.
Even so, how can a child be expected to sit for six hours taking a test? Today my daughter was literally in tears, tired and frustrated to the point that I told her more than once, Don’t even read it anymore. Just guess.
How in the world is that an accurate measure of learning, by anyone’s standards?
4. They’re boring.
As my daughter sat there in tears, complaining about how boring this was, I peeked over over her shoulder to see what the fuss was about.
Good Lord. I see now why these people write tests and not books, because no one would read them. Ever.
5. They’re stressful.
You know how I said in #3 that I told my daughter just to guess? Well, it didn’t work because she wouldn’t do it. Being the perfectionist that she is, she insisted upon sitting there, reading the same passages over and over again in search of the correct answers when she was too tired to think straight. In between the tears were constant mumblings of I’m stupid and I can’t do this anymore.
This is one area where I’m going to admit that parents of public school students have an advantage; they don’t have to be witnesses to the breaking of their kids’ spirits as they endure hours upon hours and weeks upon weeks of something that no adult would ever volunteer themselves for.
6. They kill the joy in learning.
My daughter is one of those kids who has always loved to read. At least once a day, you’ll find her reading aloud to her younger siblings, or sitting in the yard with her nose buried in a book.
Today she determinedly told me that, because of this test, she hates reading and never wants to read again. It’s an exaggeration, I know, but just imagine the kids who have to go through weeks of these tests- a couple times a year.
Is it any wonder that so many kids today refuse to read for pleasure?
7. They’re a waste of money.
Not only are these tests a waste of taxpayer money, but they’re an additional waste of our money. Since I refuse to make my kids spend weeks going to the school to take the tests for free, my husband and I have to pay for these tests for our children out of our own pockets.
Trust me, I am not a happy camper about forking over the dough for something I consider to be a cruel joke.
8. They take precious time away from real learning.
All I could think of today was all the things we could’ve been learning about instead of doing what we were forced to be doing. And this test only lasted one day.
Imagine the time wasted in public schools. Not only do they spend weeks administering them, but a great portion of their time before and after testing time is spent on test prep. After school programs are dedicated to test prep. Activities that were once meant to be fun are now focused on one objective- getting kids ready for the tests.
I’m so thankful to homeschool my children. Instead of spending our year teaching to the test, we actually get to pursue things that really matter. Things that are really pertinent. Things that will actually equip them for the real world.
Is it any wonder our schools are the way they are? They’ve replaced a genuine education with a cheap knockoff.
Suffice it to say, standardized testing is one of the worst things to happen to our public school system. And as much as I’d like to say that I’m happy to have gotten this off of my chest, there’s only problem:
I’ll be going through this all over again next week with my son…