Testing, Testing

| April 20, 2011 | 1 Comment
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Flickr:Casey Serin

Speaking of test prep. A reader responded to me by email today about Debbie Stier’s quest to ace the SAT and to motivate her son to do well so he’s accepted to the best college.

The reader wrote: “For any student considering college, the key is not the right test prep or cramming for the SAT/ACT but just applying oneself throughout school… There’s a very pronounced ‘something for nothing’ culture in the United States and my concern is that efforts like this only serve to further promote that. ‘How I do in grades 9-12 doesn’t matter so much if I can just get the right test prep tutor.’”

At his TEDxNYED talk recently, Will Richardson, a longtime educator and now a professional development consultant, brings up a similar point — but takes it much further. “If you want test prep, you don’t need schools,” he says, because everything you need can be found online, just as Stier, the SAT mom, demonstrates.

Here, we’ve reached a cross-section of perspectives about testing, some of which overlap:

  • A mother who wants her son to test well in order to get into the best college possible so he can have the best opportunities available to him.
  • An observer who believes the focus should be on the educational journey provided by schools.
  • A longtime educator who believes the current school model, which revolves around testing, is taking all the initiative out of kids.

Because it’s the “coolest moment to be a learner right now” — kids can learn what they want when they want without having to wait for a teacher to teach them — it’s time to think differently about what it means to prepare kids, Richardson says.

And as with most complicated issues — those that have ramifications on the future of learning — this one is not black-and-white.

Watch Will Richardson’s TEDxNYED talk:

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  • http://www.perfectscoreproject.com Debbie Stier

    I TOTALLY agree with what that reader said (i.e. :For any student considering college, the key is not the right test prep or cramming for the SAT/ACT but just applying oneself throughout school… There’s a very pronounced ‘something for nothing’ culture in the United States and my concern is that efforts like this only serve to further promote that. ‘How I do in grades 9-12 doesn’t matter so much if I can just get the right test prep tutor.’”)

    The problem is, the public schools as I’ve experienced them are NOT doing even close to the job that needs to be done. It’s why I pulled my kids out of public school, despite the fact that I live in a “great” district and pay INSANE taxes (in the district I live in, it’s nearly $30,000 in taxes per kid). I can’t afford it at all, have nothing saved for college as a result — but felt like if I left my kids there for another year they would fall further behind, and have to cram more.

    The schools they attend now are not perfect, but they are MUCH better, and the idea is absolutely for them to be taught in school and not have to cram. But my kids (like most) spent the first 13 years of their lives being under taught and there’s a lot to make up for.

    My daughter said to me the other day “this school is too hard for me” (which it’s not) — but I told her I love her too much to let her leave.