3.22.2011

Standardized Tests Challenged by PA Mom

My kids have been ridiculously stressed out about the PSSAs. My oldest child had nightmares about failing and told me that she was scared that she was going to be "held back" if she didn't do well.

For the record, both of my kids made honor roll last reporting period. They are at or near the top of their respective classes. And, as I've mentioned, one of them receives special services for gifted kids. My point? They're bright kids.

But the pressure to well on these darn tests is enormous. It's not only the students who are graded: the schools, the teachers and the principals are graded. And the tension is palpable.

That's why, when I saw this article about a mom opting out of the tests in State College, PA, I was intrigued.

I actually believe that standardized tests serve a purpose. Progress (or lack thereof) needs to be measured in some way.

I just don't know that relying on a mere two weeks out of the year is the best way to do it. And I'm not sure how indicative it is of their progress, even under the best of circumstances. The enormous amount of stress it puts on our children is certainly not conducive to best measuring how much they've learned.

I'm not sure what the answer is, really. I know that, at some schools in other states, they test as a measure of progress but do not use the results as the primary determination of whether a school is successful. Rather, they look to a numbers of indicators. Maybe that's the direction we should be headed?

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