Standardized Tests and Life Lessons for Children

‘H’ and her superhero friend

You know all the complaints and grumbling about standardized tests? Count me in, I’m going to grumble about them too. After administering the first grade test to ‘A’ a few days ago I can tell you that it’s a really meaningless way of assessing what children know. All that matters when reading the results is that the child answered the question correctly or not. Missing from the equation is the whole discussion about how they got to the answer and why they chose the answer they did. Isn’t that what teaching and learning is all about?

As a homeschooling parent, I was able to read the questions and answer choices. Parents of public school children, at least in New York, aren’t allowed to see the questions. They really should be able to, because then they would have a chance to clear up some of the erroneous information that could be on their child’s test. There was a story on ‘A’s test that was part of the reading comprehension section. She had to read it to herself and answer questions about the meaning of the story. The story was about a topic that most people have no first-hand experience with, and probably don’t fully understand. My family lives a little bit differently though and the topic was something we know a bit about. The story was factually incorrect. At first I tried to tell myself that it was grossly oversimplified, and that young children don’t need to know a lot of details. It’s kept simple, I thought, so that the children won’t be distracted with too much information. But that wasn’t true, and I had to admit it to myself: the person who wrote the test was wrong.

Because I saw the question, I had the opportunity to tell ‘A’ when her testing session was over that the story was factually incorrect. There are a few good life lessons for children in this story:

Life Lesson #1: Only write stories about topics with which you have first hand experience or some factual knowledge.

Life Lesson #2: Adults will lovingly tell you that you need to do well in school in order to get to job when you’re older, but as you see, that isn’t true. It is possible to grow up with poor research skills and have a job where you can make mistakes that go unchallenged. Just because someone is an adult and they have a job, it doesn’t mean they know everything. In fact, there are many adults who have important jobs and they aren’t that smart. 

Life Lesson #3: Don’t take these tests too seriously.



One Response to Standardized Tests and Life Lessons for Children

  1. Richard G. Ryder May 24, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

    Right on!!!!!!!!

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