Assessment of children is the process of gathering information from a variety of resources to help formulate a proper, individualize educational plan. There are several types of assessment that are available, ranging from formal (like standardized testing) to simple observation. In the modern world today, educators have heavily rely upon standardized testing to measure the knowledge of children. This standardized testing can often be harmful to not only the child, but the teachers and school districts if low test results occur. Since standardized testing plays a large part in schools, teachers are often pressured into “teaching to the test,” where children are drilled with standard questions that often cover a limited area of academics. If a class or school where to receive particularly high scores, there may be a monetary reward, which promotes more “teaching to the test” among schools.
While I believe that standardized testing should be administered, it should not be the main source of assessment, and it should never be used as a monetary rewards for teachers and administrators. A child is created of countless thoughts, actions, words, and behaviors. A standardized test cannot produce a holistic view of who a child is and what he/she can accomplish. All it can state is how well a certain subject is known. It will not be able to reveal where a child measures socially nor what some of the best learning methods are for the particular child. Standardized testing scores typically get groups together, amidst numbers and scores, that generally gauge how a classroom or school is performing, not how to better assist children in learning.
Therefore, I believe that when children are assessment, a variety of resources should be used. One of those resources can certainly be a standardized test that will be able to know acadmic knowledge of certain subjects. However, there should be numerous other outlets that are used to create a holistic profile of a child:
- A cognitive and physical assessment should be taken. How well does the child understand the written language? Does the child reciporcate better through oral or visual output? What is the preferred language? Through identifying specific cognitive strengthes and weaknesses of a child, proper learning instructions can be adapted to the child. In addition, how a child engages physical should also be considered. Is the child developing within the normal physical range for his age group? Does the child tend to get up or bounce around in his seat? Through documenting the physical aspects of a child, the proper environment can be arranged, so the child achieve his optimal academic best.
- Emotional assessment should also be performed, as it will reveal a child’s emotional state. Does the child appear happy most of the day? Are there periods of saddness and anger? Does a particular subject promote a specific emotional reaction? Through completing an emotional assessment of a child, an educator may be able to design specific learning strategies that promote positive emotions and academic learning.
- Plenty of documented observation should be taken into account that record how a child behaves under certain situations. Does the child tend to act out more during large group instruction? Perhaps gearing learning through small group instruction would fit that child better.
- In addition to observation, an assessment of social interaction should be considered as well. Perhaps that child tends to remain an outcast, affecting academic achievement. Through additional methods to help promote positive social interaction, a rise among academic achievement may be seen.
- Family background information should also be taken into consideration. Does the family have a native language preferred within the home? Is the parent under a considerable amout of stress that may result in less parent support? Through assessing the home environment, clues may be given on how to provide a better academic setting and possibile resource connections for the family.
When collaborating among these assessments, a team should work together to create an appropriate, tailored educational plan for the child. Perhaps the variety of assessments will reveal that the child learns best in a quiet environment with a few children around. Or rather the child gains information should remain active and hands-off. Maybe a child retains information through working independently and with music on in the background. Whichever way a child learns, the variety of assessments will be able to show how to create the best learning environment for that child.
I belive that a variety of assessments should be used for a child that look at the multiple intelligences of a child. The acadmic knowledge should not just be assessed. A child is also a social being, therefore social interaction should be considered. In addition, a child is also cognitively aware. Knowing what the cognitive strengths are show part of who a child is. When assessment, all aspects of a child should be considered, as that is who they are. We simply can’t judge a car based upon the outside appearance. We must consider the entire car, including the motor. Likewise, we can’t judge a child just on his academic knowledge. We must use assessment to formulate a whole view of the child is in order to know how to provide better assistance.
The pressure of standardized testing can be seen not only in America, but in developed nations around the world. In Finland, high school seniors partake in a standardized test that measures how much they know and how well they know it, which will determine their chances of getting into a university. This test lasts for about 43 hours over a period of three weeks. One of the main differences between Finnish and US standardized testing is who receives the pressure. In America, the scores are often reflected upon teachers, administrators, and school districts. Therefore, administration receives the bulk of the pressure, while the students are minimally affected. However, in Finland, the students have a majority of the pressure placed on them, as the results will determine the likelihood of entering into higher education. Another major difference is the level of sophisciation within the standardized testing. Finland students are required to write three essays that include reading and analyzing different texts.
Aside from standardized testing, Finnish schools participate in an array of testing throughout the school year. Within one school year, a student in Finland can expand an average of six weeks worth of testing that are designed by a teacher. Talk about a lot of testing! Whether you consider Finland or America, students have the same general feeling about testing: they don’t like it! Testing may affect students’ lives negatively, create a lower desire to learn, and become a primary reason why students don’t like schools.
On a finaly note about standardized testing, I do not believe that it is for every child. While children within normal developmental range will benefit primary from a standardized test, children with disabilities can be largely negatively affected by a standardized test. A child with dyslexia can become stressed out with the knowledge of an upcoming standardized test. A child with a learning disability that affects reading cognition can become depressed over the fact that he may not know as much as his peers. I believe that children with disabilities should be taken into special consideration when it comes to standardized testing. A different kind of test should be available to assess knowledge in a particular format or on different levels. Through offering tailored standardized tests for specific children, an accurate measurement may be produced, rather than stress and an inaccurate picture of how much a child knows.
Finally, within my school district, children with multple disabilities must be given an alternative standardized testing that measures academic knowledge. Watching these children, who were non-verbal, perform a standardized test about math and science seemed cruel to me. These children were rather putting on a show than showing what they truly know. Rather than expecting these special children to show their academic knowledge, I believe a functional and life skills standardized test should be administered that will show how well they are prepared for real-life situations.
Overall, standardized testing should not be primarly used to create a profile of a child. The multiple intelligene of a child, including emotional, cognitive, and physical, should be assessment and collaborated together to form a holistic view of that child. When a holistic view of a child is available, appropriate and accurate learning strategies can be created to help that child reach his optimal learning level.