Guest Editorial: Testing Robs Kids of Joy of Learning

by Mark Sanchez & Eric Mar on October 21, 2004

Over the last several years, there has been an increased debate about the importance of standardized testing and testing scores. The state requires testing for students in grades two to eleven. The state also requires that the class of 2006 and onward will have to pass the high school exit exam in order to receive a diploma.

But the state only tests students on math and reading. This means that many teachers skim or not even touch subjects such as science, social studies and world languages in order to prepare their students for the standardized reading and math tests. Why? Because the performance of schools are judged on how well the students do on the standardized tests.

But if our students’ educational experience only consist paper/pencil test prep, they aren’t learning skills that will help them later in life. They are not being motivated to be life-long learners. They are not being encouraged to discover the joy of learning through arts, music, science, languages and/or science. We need to find a way to help the students become self-motivated, life-long learners rather than skilled test takers.

We need to make testing just one of the ways that we evaluate a
student’s performance. Portfolios, for example, have students keeping their essays, science laboratory work and art to show their knowledge and process of thinking. An authentic assessment such as portfolios gives teachers the information that they need in time to aid the student using the best practices available, and not months after the student has moved on to different classes and the results of the test finally arrived back to the classroom.

We need to find a way that students who learn and can express their learning best visually, musically or through drama have the opportunity to learn math, literature, science and history through the arts. This can only happen if we give teachers more support in finding different ways to reach all, particularly struggling, students rather than insisting that all teachers only teach to the items on a test day after day.

This means finding ways to engaging the mind and imagination of students-rather than honing their testing taking skills.

Beyond Chron will be offering equal space to the other school board candidates to present their opinions on San Francisco schools.

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