I live in the state of Maryland. I have a ten year old son who is in the fifth grade. In accordance with No Child Left Behind and Maryland’s state assessment (MSA) each child is tested for content in reading, math and science. From grades three to eight, students are tested on reading, math and language skills. In grades four through eight, Maryland includes science. Standardized testing determines which schools systems get more or less funding and how well they rate among their peers in teaching core fundamentals. While I understand standardized testing, my son’s MSA scores do not accurately reflect his knowledge level. Some kids do well with standardized testing. Their reading comprehension is well. My son is not one of those kids. He retains information better if he’s visually shown than having to read it. Here is where the problem lies. I believe there are more children, than just my son, who would benefit from assessments that are both standard and alternative. As each child learns at a different pace and different skill set, more personalization and utilization of different tools can be used to reduce children from falling through the cracks in our education system. In a timed setting with several other children, my son rushes through tests in order not to be last. In this setting, his test scores are average and if he’s not interested in the subject matter below average. When testing on an individual level, his score increases dramatically as he doesn’t feel pressured to compete.
Maryland does have an alternative MSA, but this is given to students who have several cognitive disabilities that prohibit them from understanding the standard MSA. Again, I don’t believe either clearly shows a true portrait of a child’s social, behavioral or learning patterns. I don’t have any easy answers only more questions on how we can provide individual learning plans for each student, without the headache of lack of funds, no resources, overcrowded classes and not enough teachers.
Taiwan has a different perspective on standardized testing. Emphasis is placed more on academics and student’s test scores determine what high school and college they will attend. The better the test scores, the better the schools. If students don’t score well enough to attend the best schools, their career choices are limited. Where our teachers have flexible on how to administer class curriculums, Taiwan is extremely rigid and leaves little room for students to grow socially and emotionally. The stress levels of Taiwanese students is extremely high to perform well; there is no option to perform average or less.
What does MSA test? Retrieved from http://www.mdk12.org/assessments/k_8/index_b.html
Taiwan and U.S. Education Comparisons: Standardized Testing. Retrieved from http://sitemaker.umich.edu/huangk.356/standardized_testing