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Testing is useful tool, even if Obama labels it boring

1335-1243972165NX9TPresident Obama says testing makes education boring.

I’m not sure he’s right on that. When I was at school, I found nothing boring about a test.

In fact, I remember with great clarity sitting at my classroom desk, reading the questions on a test paper, and feeling the panic choke my throat.

Even when I knew the material, I was sweating heavily.

That’s because my parents expected good grades. They didn’t beat me if I got bad grades. I just knew that bad grades were not acceptable.

I knew there would be consequences—although, come to think of it, those consequences were never actually spelled out.

Now, I know the President, speaking recently at town hall meeting in Washington, D.C., was really talking about the dangers of today’s overreliance on standardized testing.

According to Education News, Obama “feels that while a standardized test is a good ‘baseline’ measuring tool, administering them annually forces teachers to ‘teach the test’ and might limit schools’ flexibility to teach topics outside the scope of the exam. He also said that education should be about more than just filling in bubbles.

I can’t argue with that logic. But, with a son in high school, my impression of modern education leaves me unimpressed with the idea that standardized testing is a serious problem.

The real problem, as I see it, is that many kids couldn’t care less about a standardized test—or the weekly quiz. And homework? Yawn.

The real problem is that, outside of Advanced Placement classes, teachers aren’t pushing their kids enough—or the kids simply shrug their shoulders and do the bare minimum to get by.

I know, I know. The world has changed, and I’m sounding like an old fogy fondly (and inaccurately) remembering the “good old days.”

Fair enough.

But, while we do need to tweak No Child Left Behind and end this silly practice of labeling schools a “failure” because they educate disadvantaged children, let’s remember that testing has its place.

Just like the old boogey man—there is some motivational benefit to scaring the bejeebers out of students.

Del Stover, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|March 31st, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Policy Formation, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

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