Test scores optional

My oldest daughter is starting to visit colleges and has created her short list.  In an era which ed-reformers’ influence is pushing schools to emphasize test scores as a way to find out if kids are college ready, I find it ironic that not a single school on her list requires test scores.  We just visited Clark University and during the opening remarks they had a slide with several items they consider in the admissions process.  Test scores was at the bottom, and the admissions official stated that if you don’t test well don’t even bother sending them.  She is looking at little schools like Bennington College and bigger schools like Eastern Connecticut State University.  Each one, same thing, test scores optional.

We spent another staff meeting this week getting “trained” to deliver the sbac tests.  No cell phones, all paper in room is a secure testing item that cannot be allowed out, touch your computer every 15 minutes so the test does not time out otherwise the kids will have to retake it the next day–we were not given instructions on how to spy on kids social media accounts during the testing…I guess that is above my pay grade. The testing will go in school for five weeks.  All computers will be used so the project we had in which we were going to create web pages for our unit on the Amazon has been canceled.  Canceled, even though I have sat through numerous college presentations that have all reinforced that the skills the kids would be learning from such a project would be more important than their test scores.  I can guarantee that the kids will learn nothing positive during their many hours of being measured.  I was taught early in college that the best assessments were the ones in which new learning occurred, not ones which required simple regurgitation.   For five weeks our school will be regurgitating.  Nothing new will be learned while going to the pre-test rally, sitting in rows waiting to be tested, testing in silence, or sitting in rows in silence waiting for the test to end.

Nothing will be learned from a test in which Connecticut has already determined before the kids have taken it how many will fail.  A test in which already the state has decided that up to 90% of special education kids will fail.  A test whose results are already pre-determined by a kid’s zip code.  A test that will determine which 5% of schools can be taken over by the state and given to corporations to run.  A result which then creates a new bottom 5% the following year to be taken over, taken over by the same groups that pushed the test into school in the first place.  The test that was supposed to determine if kids were college ready.  The test that is supposed to help kids achieve that great American dream.  Aptly called a dream, because the only people that believe submitting my kids to all of this testing will help them fulfill their dreams are clearly still sleeping.




  1. Testing insanity is correct and it keeps getting worse! I find myself “closing my door” more so nobody knows about how we approach learning in my class for surely there would be questions, raised brows, and unfortunately possibly consequences. This year alone, my 12th year of teaching, I’ve been brought to tears-at school!- over some monthly test scores. The words, “I’m not a bad teacher. These are not bad kids.” came out of my mouth because that is how we are made to feel. My students and I are merely numbers now and it truly breaks my heart.

  2. I’m fascinated that colleges and universities care so little about test scores. I wonder if it’s their way of pushing back on the ridiculous amounts of testing taking place in k-12 education. I’m also sad for the children of Connecticut that they have to do be involved in five weeks of testing. Simply outrageous! Not to mention the other stats you posted about the numbers set to fail. How do we beat these testing companies and overcome this over-testing crisis in our k-12 schools?

  3. I don’t think colleges are pushing back against the testing. Colleges have long been vocal critics of the lack of preparedness of the average college freshman. Testing is the tonic that has been prescribed for addressing this concern, but it has the same effectiveness as bloodletting did for medicinal purposes. What we’re really concerned about is that college students aren’t very good thinkers, and ramping up testing didn’t fix this problem at all. So now we have better test-takers, but the quality of thinking is actually worse. That colleges ignore test results simply shows how much the emphasis on testing misses the mark of what is truly needed.

  4. Hi Paul,

    Very happy I stumbled upon your blog.. it is very interesting and the kind of thing I’d probably like to read more often! I am also a teacher (and blogger of education). “I was taught early in college that the best assessments were the ones in which new learning occurred, not ones which required simple regurgitation. ” I have to quote this because it is just so poignant and true. You want to make sure the students have the relevant knowledge, but also that their thinking isn’t mechanical… that they can WORK with the knowledge — synthesize it, move it around, connect it, build on it, etc…

    Another user here mentioned that kids were getting better at taking tests but that quality of thinking was worsening. This could be true. Students will adapt to whatever they need to in order to succeed; if testing is the way to go, they will become better at tests. My ESL students can be amazing at tests, but will have trouble formulating their own opinions about a topic.

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