As a student, I was never a big fan of the standardized test. My SAT score backs that up. I grudgingly took and passed the High School Competency Test (replaced by the FCAT) because I had to.
I am fairly certain that nobody will ever mistake Kaitlyn for a lover of the standardized test, either. I could be wrong, but the format of such a test does not exactly line up with her talents. There is way too much down time, which means that there is way too much time for her mind to wander. I imagine that Kaitlyn will be a lot like me when it comes to taking these tests: scan the question for keywords and then deduce an answer.
To say that I am not looking forward to the grades where Kaitlyn will be “taught to the test” is an understatement. I think that having a test like the FCAT in place does a disservice to all students, not just those on the spectrum. Teachers are forced to focus a lot of teaching time and energy on material that is solely on the test, and I believe that doing so robs students of a true classroom experience. Which is why yesterday’s announcement that FCAT scoring will now be more stringent is pretty discouraging. The supposed goal, as stated by the governor of Florida, is to “provide a framework of expectations for reporting how much our students learn in each grade level to teachers, parents, and other stakeholders.” Say what? Who are these “stakeholders?” And how is what a student learned really accurately measured by a standardized test? Last I checked, there is no such thing as a “standardized” student. And the bigger question is how does our state expect to compare our academic standards to the state like Massachusetts when, according to a U.S. Department of Education report from 2009, Florida spent $5,673 less per student that year? (chart here)
I was fortunate growing up to have some amazing teachers. And I am even more fortunate to call some of those same teachers my friends today. What I enjoyed most about being in their classes was that they had the freedom and flexibility to actually teach us. I can still recall random bits of information that came from these amazing teachers. All that they had to worry about as far as testing was the HSCT, and we spent about a week getting ready for it, and then it was on us as students to achieve. As far as I know, their worth and success as a teacher was not tied too closely to how I did on the test; that is all but reversed with the FCAT in place. My fear for Kaitlyn is that teachers like I had will not be around as she progresses through her school years. We are excited that she has the amazing teacher she has this year and that her school is filled with teachers cut from a similar cloth, but at what level do the great ones throw their hands up and move on? I can still recall the teacher and the class I was in when I learned the equation associated with the picture below, and that has to be a product of that teaching flexibility Mr. DeWalt had in his class because I know I never saw it on any standardized test.