Tests, are they just a school thing?

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As I sit in front of my computer mulling over recent student test data, I am finding myself surprised by some of the data. A few students who always seem to have the answers when we work in the classroom struggled. Some of those that never seem to be paying attention or have their work completed scored better than expected. Are my classroom observations off? Were my formative assessments not checking for the right understanding?

Examining students’ work does show if understanding is happening, but this is different than a test. When students work in my class they can talk to each other. I have taught them how to help each other become better students by asking the right questions: How did you reach your answer? What process did you follow? Where did you find your information? Our class motto is: Working together to achieve higher. Collaboration is a key element in all students success, in life and in school. BUT when it comes to tests students sit alone. NO help, NO collaboration, NO resources just them by themselves. All alone. Many students worry about their grades. Saying “If I don’t get a good grade I will be grounded!” etc.

Is an educational setting the only place where tests exists this way? YES, High Schools, Colleges, MCATs, LSATs, GRE, Medical and Legal Board exams all look this way. But where else. If I am a doctor do I face my patients alone, or can I call other medical experts for advice. When building a house do I work alone or part of a team? Obviously in most jobs tests occur but allow us to use the resources and our colleagues are available to find solutions.

In education we need to find a balance between the current high stakes testing world and the collaborative world that surrounds us. Our students are so much more than a multiple guess test score. Our students are unique makers striving to exist in a world that is not defined yet.