I have never been a fan of standardized testing in schools.  There’s too big a variable at play — missing the wild mind — and these tests praise and condone only the middle.  If you don’t do well on these tests, you are not moved forward or thought of as a significant thinker.  The system doesn’t mind if your wild view of the world matters.  The only thing the test givers care about is finding, and approving, the mainstream, middling, mind to guarantee, and impress, conformity.

The recent cheating scandal in the Atlanta school system proves my point about the nefarious unreliability of these standardized tests where teachers are hired or fired based on how well their students do or do not do on these silly tests:

Ms. Parks admitted to Mr. Hyde that she was one of seven teachers — nicknamed “the chosen” — who sat in a locked windowless room every afternoon during the week of state testing, raising students’ scores by erasing wrong answers and making them right. She then agreed to wear a hidden electronic wire to school, and for weeks she secretly recorded the conversations of her fellow teachers for Mr. Hyde.

I understand the public and private school systems needs a way to quantify learning across school districts and counties and States and whole parts of the nation. I just know, from taking these tests, to giving these tests, that these standardized learning tests reflect the cultural memes and moral values of the test creators — only homogeneity and commonality and consensus are being tested and not thriving thinking.

Getting the answer right matters more than providing several answers to a single question. No long-form thinking is allowed because that would take too long to check. Checkmarks on a computer sheet are fine. We’re testing how well a student can fill in an oval with a #2 pencil so a computer can read the canned, rote, learning.

I want physical and audible proof of learning and intelligence. I want free-thinkers. I want students who are able to believe and act fast. I don’t want to test a brain with a pencil on paper. I want to examine the way the thought process happens when faced with living and dying scenarios. I want to test muscle twitches and the landscape of how the eye sees and interprets the world.

I want students who are reflexive and never reflective. I want a nation of thinkers that are not limited by what is already known and remembered. I want a community of minds that bring hive experience into being by challenging the notion that breathing is the first, and last, indicator of life. I want a real intelligence I can taste and chew on in others and I never want the pabulum of a computer printout telling me who is smart, and therefore worthwhile, and who is not.

18 Comments

  1. Right on. Memorizing dates and facts and figures shows how well you can memorize them — not how well you have actually learned the essence of the material.

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  2. You want free thinkers – they are the governemnts worst nightmare. Everything you value – the ability to question, to debate , to research, to go outside the box – is everything that threatens them and their requirement that you need to fit in a box called fodder so you can then be fed into factories, offices – i.e the system that is the hamster in the wheel that is called the state so you pay your taxes, grind the wheels that make them rich and keep them in their place unquestioning.

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    1. Absolutely right. They don’t want us to think — they want us to react to what we’ve been told by spewing it right back at them. We are rewarded with advanced placement and lighter loads and full-ride scholarships to keep the status quo intact and unobserved.

      The real talent is playing that game while remaining a free-thinker. You’ll be labeled an Anarchist if found out — but one must eventually reach beyond the binding middle to start living a due life.

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  3. yep – my little genius discovered alcohol for a term – then gave it up !

    And when I went to college it was the only way you could leave home as a girl – without getting married !

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    1. The mind and body unleashed!

      Isn’t that fascinating that the only way for you to escape was to play with your mind?

      I had a wonderful Indian student. She was the baby of the family and incredibly smart, but her parents wanted her married, at home, and not working as long as she wasn’t in school.

      I knew her when she was getting her M.A. and she had just been accepted to an M.D. program at a good medical school.

      When she finished her M.D., she was going to an Ivy League school journalism program to get a PhD in writing, and then, when she finished that, she planned to top it all off with a JD from another Ivy League law school.

      She had a way to stay “in school” for two decades getting degree after degree just so she wouldn’t have to quit her mind to live her pre-arranged marriage life of predestiny.

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  4. Yes I was terribly worried , but refrained from interferring – all over and done with within a term

    Boys it was OK – middle class white girls – was a no no. I also made sure I chose a University a LONG way away so I was not expected to live at home. Well done to your Indian student she is lucky to have a mind that could enable her to do that.

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    1. You were smart to go far away! Was there any family resistance to your leaving?

      Yes, that student was incredible. I bought her story up until after the M.D. part — the rest of it felt a little desperate and ridiculous, but she was smart enough and quick enough to do it all and not have to pay a penny in tuition. I’m certain the schools would free ride her all the way no matter what.

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  5. They were neutral – no enormous encouragement , no real excitement – I am not too sure they liked my choice of studies – Communication studies – which was pretty “out there” and far away from what they thought I should be doing – ie traditional subjects.

    Now that is smart !

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  6. I couldn’t agree more. I generally do well on standardized tests because they tell you exactly what you need to cram and memorize… and after the fact, I feel like I’ve retained nothing. It bothers me when I look back on these giant, make-or-break tests (SATs, I’m looking at you!) and don’t feel that I’ve truly grown from them.

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    1. I can imagine standardized tests play well with you, Emily. You are precise and accurate and right on point. You’ve honed a natural talent to appear to do well — even if you haven’t retained anything! SMILE!

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