Monday, March 14, 2011

Kids are different. Tests are not.

The people who came up with the plan of testing kids as young as eleven or ten or nine knew nothing about kids.

Kids all learn and grow and mature at different rates. I have tried to teach my own children that every person has unique talents as well as unique challenges. Learning to use your talents for good while learning to meet and master your challenges is your job in life. When I talk to my kids about religion, I tell them that their special talents and their special challenges are both gifts from God.

Standardized tests are fine for some things, I guess — as one part of the college admissions process or as one of several psychological diagnostic tools. But they are here used as one small part of the process.

Kids are not standardized.

I have two children. Both are boys. One figured out how to read before he was two years old. By the time he was in kindergarten, he was reading the New York Times. He still reads the Times. Math is a confusing struggle, and it's okay because he wants to be a filmmaker.

His brother has always been more interested in how things work. He had no interest in books as a toddler. Although, he still reads below grade level, eventually he'll catch up. But he can do math in his head. Mostly he just sees how things work. He wants to invent a time machine and knows more about physics, relativity, and something called gravitational time dilation, than any third grader you're likely to meet.

Two boys. Same parents. Same parenting. Same storybooks at bedtime. Same school. Same teachers. Two completely different test score profiles. No amount of test prep, test drills, or even special math or reading tutoring is going to change who they are. They just see and process their world differently. The only thing all that testing does is rob them of their childhood.

They are both so lucky to be in a school that celebrates their differences, nurtures their strengths and gently supports them in meeting their challenges. I don't care if their school fails to make AYP. What I do care about is that they both love school and love learning.


  1. When you graduate and get a job, tell your boss that you are different and want to be held to different performance stardards than the other employees. I'll bet you'll get an interesting response from her/him.

  2. Steve, I have graduated. I graduated a long time ago. I have an advanced degree. Most performance standards in companies are jokes. The office is the worst place to get anything done. And obviously you've had no experience working in for companies where innovation and creativity are valued and rewarded.

    The point here is that kids in elementary school aren't working at a job. Middle school kids aren't working at a job. If they were, they should be getting time and half for doing homework.

  3. amen to that! i couldn't agree more.

    the sleepy time gal