What if?

what if

Recently I had a crazy thought? I actually have them quite often. I just don’t always put them down in writing. But this time I just had to.

Many schools across the country are administering some form or another of standardized testing. We are currently in the midst of our second round of PARCC testing. And while schedules have been rearranged and instructional time has been lost, it hasn’t been horrible.

Here is where my crazy thought comes in.

What if every child received a perfect score?

I know this thought doesn’t even make sense. So for those of you that always defer to logic you can stop reading now. But for the rest of you whose brain sometimes has irrational thoughts like mine I invite you to join me.

Just imagine it. The test scores come back. And something amazing has happened. Every child received a perfect score! Impossible you say! I agree. There is just no way. Okay, I get it.

But here comes the next question that has me stumped.

If every child received a perfect score would we change the test?

Unfortunately I believe that we would change the test. I think we would want to make it more difficult. So that fewer children would receive perfect scores. I think that in our minds we would convince ourselves that children would have to reach higher and learn more to meet the standards that we set for them.

I worry that since we give every child

in every grade

the same test

at the same time

we will end up with

much of the same.

Is that what we want?

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Albert Einstein

In my fifteen plus years I have worn various hats when it has come to standardized testing. I have prepared students for them. Probably too earnestly at times. I have helped teachers prepare their classes for them. Certainly with too much emphasis on raising scores. And now, at this point in my career I am a site test coordinator.

It is only now that I feel like I am able to take a step back and see with a little more clarity and with a little less bias. And I think I have come to the conclusion that no student feels better about themselves after taking a standardized test. Many in fact feel worse. And that is difficult to watch. On the other hand, students I know that are going to excel on standardized tests do not leave the testing environment with a stride in their step or a smile on their face. They just walk out. That’s it.

Are these standardized tests giving us what we need? I certainly hope so. Because they are definitely not giving our children what they need. And that is a shame because that is who we are serving. Or have we forgotten?

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs

I’d like to think that our goal is to help prepare kids to change the world. I just don’t think we are going about it the right way. Not by preparing them all to take the same exact test.

I don’t know. Maybe these are probably just one man’s crazy thoughts on a lazy spring night.

For now let’s just hope that at least everyone doesn’t receive a perfect score. Because if they do we are going to have to make some difficult decisions. And I don’t know if we are ready? Or are we?