BAM!!! Dead silence turned into gasps, head turns, and laughter after a chromebook hit the floor. Students woke up and became inspired. It’s state testing day. Before the the chromebook incident, looks of boredom, sleepiness, and ‘why’ could be seen throughout Room 303.
I just can’t help but wonder myself – why? Even a student asked me, “Why do we have to take this test?” I’m of the belief that if a student asks me why we do something in history class, I should be able to justify the “why” passionately and truthfully from the heart. However, my response to the student about testing was the typical, beat-around-the-bush response. He saw right through me. I can’t sell it.
What meaning does this state test have for the students? There is no voice or choice. No authenticity or authentic audience. No creativity. I remember a five years ago with a team I was coaching, my players told me tales of how they got creative on the state test. The prompt was, “Explain a life changing moment….” I can’t remember the rest. But, these students found their own creativity in mocking the test. Some told me of how they wrote about when their wife gave birth to their first child and made up a whole life story. Some even wrote about how taking a state test changed their lives for the better; sarcastically of course.
For those who say testing reflects what students know and are able to do, refer back to the above paragraph. Furthermore, I can use my own experience with testing to say this is a garbage response. I remember in 2000, I got my ACT scores back. I got a big 15. Yes, a 15. According to these results, I would do terrible in college; no way I would be successful. I took the ACT again. The scores came back…….and I got an 18!!! Wooooooooo!!! Again, with these results, success in college was not likely. If the ACT was a reflection of me, then I shouldn’t have graduated as a collegiate-athlete with a 4.0 GPA.
Students know, and understand, this testing has no authenticity. So, how can we create meaning with testing? I feel testing is never going away, but something has to change. Perhaps the people who make this stuff up could visit schools and see the creativity and critical thinking taking place and become inspired. Leaders could get on Twitter for 5 minutes a day and see all the good stuff happening in classrooms across the country.
What if state leaders became inspired by more school visits, and browsing Twitter for 5 minutes a day, to change state testing? Maybe they would see creativity happening. Maybe they would see that 5 paragraph essay isn’t the only way to show what you know. Maybe they would see empowerment and students owning their learning. Maybe they would see students who aren’t bored, sleepy, and asking, “Why do we have to do this?”
At the end of the day, it shouldn’t take a Chromebook hitting the floor to wake up and inspire 18 students during a state test.