Students protest standardized testing

Kids don’t like taking tests.

I know, shocking.

More specifically, students do not like high stakes standardized tests, and they are letting us know.

In Seattle, teachers have refused to administer a school district’s standardized test, and students and parents seem to support this.  At Garfield High School in Seattle, “…Garfield teachers had the support of the PTSA, and many parents chose to opt their children out of the tests or keep them home when administrators forced the school to administer the tests.” (see Huffington Post).

In Providence, students dressed up as zombies to protest standardized testing.  There’s a nice article on this in the Washington Post with a video of the Providence student protest.  This article also includes an interview with a student in Oregon, Alexia Garcia, who is helping to organize an opt-out campaign.  There was one part of this interview that stuck out to me:

I am a senior in high school, and I’ve been taking standardized tests ever since 2nd grade or 3rd grade. I remember really stressing out over the tests as an elementary and middle school student. There is a lot of pressure put on students to do well on them. Teachers would do practice tests with us and teach us techniques to doing well on the test…. Once I started high school I realized that these tests were not actually as important as they are made out to be, in that they were not related to the class, but simply an additional state requirement. The material on the tests was not relevant to what I had been learning in class. Also, teachers would have to stop mid-unit to administer the tests, that was something that really frustrated me as a student. We would be learning something actually interesting, then have to take a day or two off to test.

I added in the bolding, just to point out what part specifically got me thinking.

By the way, you should go back and read the whole article, it is impressive how thoughtful and well-constructed her comments are.

As a teacher, I can share some of this feeling.  Being in the middle of a unit, having the students starting to really “get it,” then losing them for a few days, feels like such a loss of momentum.

As a teacher, I also feel bad for students who are tested so often.  When I was a student, there was not nearly as much testing, and I sometimes wonder how I would have felt if I was in their shoes.  Would I have enjoyed school as much?  Would I have learned as much?  Would I have been as engaged?

To think of kids taking tests every year, from the 2nd or 3rd grade up to high school, seems kind of crazy to me.  It’s just a lot.  I’m not against testing altogether, but maybe now it’s too often.  And for kids to come to a point where they realize that it “doesn’t matter” for them must be so frustrating.

In a way, I am surprised that it has taken this long for students and parents to say “enough.”