Standardized Tests, Reality TV

An interesting thing happened the other night: a parent inquired about her child’s standardized test scores moments before an evening presentation about 21st century learning. It may not seem interesting at first glance; however, had you heard the presentation, it was an ironic inquiry.

Recently, there has been some recognition that standardized testing may not be serving its purpose. In fact, Provincial Achievement Tests in Alberta are slowly being phased out.

Our current curriculum is primarily knowledge based. Therefore, standardized tests supposedly tell us who has acquired the knowledge. Though I know the intent, I have never been convinced that they serve the intended purpose. Robert John Meehan said, “Standardized Testing tells us as much about learning as Reality TV tells us about reality.” How true.

I have been reading, talking and writing a lot about the curriculum redesign our province is undertaking. From what I can tell, it’s a step in the right direction. AsĀ educators, we recognize that our students are different than they were five, ten and fifteen years ago. We also recognize that the skills students need when they graduate have dramatically changed. Therefore a curriculum redesign, an overhaul really, is required.

I want our children to be educated. I want them to learn to create, collaborate and think critically. I want them to find their passion and purpose in life. I want them to become contributing members of the global community.

Can this happen within our current curriculum? With innovation and hard work on the part of the teacher, yes. My hope however, is that within the new curriculum, students have room to create, collaborate and think critically using an area of passion as a springboard. Ultimately, my hope is that teachers are freed from the common lament of content overload and students become more engaged in their learning.

As far as I’m concerned both standardized testing and reality TV have passed their expiration date!

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