I was at the top of the stairs when I heard my daughter wail, “What do they think? We don’t have enough stress as students and we should take more stupid tests!” It was the kind of rant that only a teenage daughter can produce but luckily, this time it was not directed at her father. Instead it was directed at the New Jersey Department of Education and even Gov. Chris Christie because both are proposing more testing of high school students. I will admit I may have contributed to provoking the rant when I placed the morning newspaper on the kitchen table with the headline “Jersey proposes more high school exams” right in the spot where she enjoys her morning tea before she heads off to school.
I knew that this would get a rise out of her. She is a high school junior who is spending much of her time taking tests. She’s taking the SATs, the ACT, the HSPA test and some AP exams. I agree that sometimes it seems that she spends an extraordinary amount of time either preparing for the tests or taking the tests.
Yet in the 20 minutes it takes to consume a bowl of cereal and some eggs we discussed state standardized testing. My daughter argued that testing is a waste of time. I tried to give her the administration’s point of view. I have to admit it was interesting to get a student’s perspective instead of discussing it with another adult who hasn’t taken a standardized test in years. While I believe her view is necessarily limited by her own narrow experience, it is also a view that should not be casually dismissed, since, as an adult, I am not experiencing the testing first hand. In fact, I sometimes wonder how well I would do if I took these tests now — and I must admit I’m not anxious to find out!
Before I expand on her arguments, I should briefly review the administration’s proposal (more…)