Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Standardized tests - why we still need to prepare students for them

Like most educators, I do not agree with using standardized tests as the main measure of student achievement and teacher "performance" - hate that term also. However, standardized tests are something many of our students will need to do well on in the future to be able to get certified or licensed in different professions. Our Advanced Placement students have standardized tests to take.

EMT's, Firefighters, Police Officers, Nurses, Doctors, Lawyers, Information Technology, trades and so many more professions require standardized testing to get into programs and to get certified or licensed. This includes teachers! Many also require standardized tests to get promoted or advance in your career. In EMS, the students have to pass a written exam and a practical skills test. They need to be able to apply their knowledge to these situations. Many EMS instructors have had issues with the validity of the written test, just like in K-12 education, but the test is still a reality that these students must pass if they want to be an EMT or Paramedic.

As an EMS Instructor, I often have to help students with test taking tips and strategies, study tips, and how to not let nerves get the better of them. These are the same things I share with my high school students. Make sure that they learn, but also make sure that they can apply that learning to the test.

We need to prepare our students for the real world, which has standardized, high stakes testing as a part of many professions.

However, we should not have to have an invalid, high stakes test as the only way to evaluate students and teachers and to determine the future of a teacher. We certainly don't need to take 2 weeks, every morning, of learning time away to take a test (like in Connecticut) that really doesn't measure student learning. A standardized test in schools, that is designed properly and is not high stakes could be used as one of many assessments and measurements of what our students have learned and can apply. It is also a way to prepare them for the many standardized tests that many will have to take later in life.

We need to provide our students with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be able to learn and then apply that learning to a testing situation so that they can be successful.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...