Schools and Testing

Testing is a strong way we have as parents and educators of seeing whether or not our students have successfully measured up to our expectations. That is all that it is. I remember, \reading, as a teenager, about a student who was in a rural one room schoolhouse, and was slated for her first test, that she was too nervous to take the test. Instead she wanted to opt out of it and skip being educated forever. Her teacher, understanding her trepidation, explained to her that a test was nothing more than a challenge, and that she had dealt with many challenges being raised as then oldest child on a farm. She had to milk the cows, feed the poultry, and keep the farm looking well. In addition, her mother had passed, and she had to take up the rearing of the younger children.

Thinking a test a challenge was a major step. She could handle challenges and testing was a challenge worth handling. After weighing all of her options, she decided to take the test. It was an exclusive test, designed to weed out all of the students who could not do daily schoolijng

and homework. She aced it; She scored a perfect one hundred. She went on to become a country doctor. She felt wonderful, but she knew she could not have done it without her teacher’s backing. She worked hard at academics for the rest of her life. She handled it.

Every child should look at a test as a challenge. When I was a Junior in High School, I was scheduled for a test in AP History. I thought to myself that testing for college was something that I just could not do. I took the test because Mrs. Kealy told me to. I scored high in the six hundreds, close to seven hundred, which was the perfect score. No one was more surprised than I. It got me into Political Science at college. My first report was on the winning ways of Paul Sheehy and Connie Kiernan as State Representatives. I aced that class. Connie Kiernan was happy, I was happy. I went into college thinking that I was going to fail and shovel hamburgers for my entire life. In truth, I got straight « A »s. I owed it all to Mrs. Kealy for having the good sense to see me as a good History student.

So what’s the point. Get straight « A’s. »s. Teachers expect you to get straight A’s for the rest of your school days. I would not have gotten my marriage if I was a « D » student. Testing is a challenge. It is not a statement that you cannot do it. If I can do it, anybody can do it.

And thanks to Connie Kiernan, who asked me why Political
Science. I told him that I would go to Law School. I took the test but at that time I was going to the University of Lowell, not UMass-Lowell, as an education student, and I had three young boys of our own. Law school was not in my cards. I have never regretted it.

Getting back to testing, There are many types of tests. The two most prominent are the Achievement tests, which I am was taking for Mrs. Kealy. And there are the Intelligence tests. According to Dr. Donald Ary, the Acheivement tests are the tests which set values on the « effectiveness of instructional methods (the) dependent variable is achievement. » Achievement tests are the most widely used tests in educational research. They test the mastery and proficiency of individuals in different areas of knowledge. In short, in my experience they are the History tests. They tested my knowledge of History. They are teacher or researcher-made.

In addition, there are the intelligence tests. These measure performance in specific areas. They « attempt to measure the subject’s ability to perceive relationships, solve problems, and apply knowledge in a variety of contexts. » (ibid.) They should not be considered as measures of innate or « Pure » intelligence. « Intelligence » has been replaced by « scholastic aptitude » tests. This means they are designed to predict school performance. MCAS tests would be an example.

One of the drawbacks of this test is the fact that they are subjective. Some educators have are useful and generally valid for predicting school success. but you have to keep in mind that these test are subjective. When the educational system in Massachusetts first introduced these tests, they jumped to the conclusion that these tests were superior to any other type of testing. Later interpretations showed that these tests had a problem. College students were correcting them and they were applying their prejudices to each paper, So, if student A was better than Student B. Student B would suffer.

Wechsler tests are divided into subtests and were designed in 1939. They test IQ and nonverbal IQ. They are still used, which might be a drawback, as two scores for each subject. It might not be fair to continue to use them. Their answers are dated. Various superintendents should be questioned on whether or not these are still valid. After all, they may be used but they may have a problem with the examinees performance on specific tasks.

When I was Chairman of the Citywide Parent Council, we had a subcommittee on testing. We found that there were wide varieties of differences on student testing. It is our duty as parents to extract the wheat from the chafe. We have to assume that our School Committee members do not know everything that they should know about testing. They are, after all, just parents. We owe our passing of knowledge to our kids.