Why Traditional Tests?

4 days ago, as I was beginning to discuss a final project for our Constitution Unit, and a student said, “You don’t give tests. This class is awesome.” I replied with 3 words, “I hate tests.” In the moment, I wish I would have said more, but my heart took over as I muttered those 3 words. But 4 days has allowed me to use my head to craft a better response in this post…..Why do I hate tests?

I am known for having a good memory. However, my earliest memories are foggy or nonexistent. Any memory I can conjure up is connected to how it made me feel. The following memory I’m about to share created a negative feeling.

My junior year of high school, I took the ACT on a Saturday morning. I was at a local high school in a plain classroom, barren walls, and wooden desks arranged in rows. It was a struggle for me…….the words, the questions, the numbers……..everything was a struggle. It gave me this hopeless feeling. Time was up, I hopelessly handed in my test, and spent the next few weeks waiting.

The weeks seemed to drag on, and I knew it wouldn’t be good. Finally, my results arrived and I received a 15. I knew a 15 was awful, I felt awful. But what did this score even mean? I read the results and it said I would struggle getting into colleges. It said I would struggle with the content in college. This means one thing……..I had to take it again.

I went through the whole process of the ACT again. Saturday morning, plain room, my struggles….blah…..blah…..blah. Once again, I waited weeks and weeks and finally received my results. I got an 18. The interpretation was the same – I would struggle in college.

Due to these results, I had to take a remedial reading class at Northern Kentucky University (NKU). This class didn’t count towards a credit. This class put my credits out of balance and I had to attend an extra semester. Furthermore, these results weren’t good enough to get me into the College of Education. Why should a test be the only result that proves someone would struggle in college? Why should a test make or break someone’s career path?

Despite to my score predicting my collegiate struggles, I graduated with a 4.0 GPA. This GPA while also playing Division II tennis. Despite my score not being good enough for the College of Education, I took it a 3rd time and got the bare minimum of a 23 to get accepted.

Why do I hate tests? Because they prove nothing. People see you as a number instead of seeing your talents. Knowing big words doesn’t prove success. I remember my feeling of worthlessness and inferiority because of a number. I wouldn’t wish my those feelings from years ago on anyone.

Instead of tests, I like projects for students to show what they know. Projects have a human element to it allowing students to get creative. It’s great seeing the different ways students use the information to show what they know. Projects allow students to problem solve, collaborate, and use 21st century skills. It’s interesting to see how students interact with each other on projects. At the end of the day, I’m not out to be the cool teacher or the awesome class. I feel projects are a better way for students to use multiple intelligences, 21st century skills, and better represent what they know.


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