On the surface, the objective measures of today's standardized tests sound sensible. In theory, they give every student a solid picture of achievement, and an equal opportunity for advancement. But after years of rote memorization and drills, what were once intellectually excited and motivated five-year-olds have become bored or grade-obsessed teenagers. Their thrill over accomplishing real tasks and exhibiting real skills is replaced with anxiety over upcoming tests and a concern for high grades.
The problem with standardized tests and the fixed curricula they engender is their tendency to kill off the kind of education that matters most. But who can blame a teacher or school for orienting the lesson toward helping students pass those tests with high marks? The temptation to teach students to do well on standardized tests is almost unavoidable when performance on such tests is how entire school systems are evaluated.
It is difficult to avoid being evaluated in our society. We have arrived at the point where we are so used to being graded all the time that we expect it in every aspect of life. What is interesting to note is the way in which we evaluate ourselves. We are forever striving for "hard" numeric ranks which allow us to pit ourselves against "the competition." We rarely ask how we are doing in life, or if we are happy, because these things are so difficult to quantify. The curious thing is that how much someone has learned is difficult to quantify as well, but we still try.
Solving the Testing Problem
Where am I in the content of the book?