Guest Author - D. Lynn Byrne, Ph.D.
Standardized testing has been the metric for measuring educational "progress" for as long as I can remember; which, I should say, is much longer today than it was yesterday.
We test our children to see if they're ready to enter school, we test them to see if they are progressing through their studies, and we test them to see if they have learned what we wanted them to learn. Then we graduate them from high school and start the process all over again!
Now, I'm not a strong supporter of standardized testing--at least not as a metric for educational progress. I've always felt that such tests are really a measure more of how well prepared we are to take the test; than how well we actually know and can regurgitate material.
A wonderful friend once told me, "Teaching is a craft. As any good craftsman should, you begin as an apprentice and work your way up through the guild." Asking teachers, who have already run the educational gauntlet by not only obtaining a bachelor's degree but in many cases a master's degree (or higher), to take a standardized test after they've achieved state certification seems to me a bit redundant.
In fact, I would argue that state certification may not even be absolutely necessary. I'm quite certain there are many who would disagree with me, including some teachers. But I've known some very good teachers who did not have any certification at all; and managed to not only teach their subjects, but do so quite successfully. I've even known some extremely succesful teachers, outside of the public and/or accredited private school realm, who had only an associate's degree (and on occasion less); yet, were still successful in teaching their students.
All of this experience tells me that standardized testing is not the "gold standard" metric for this field. The more appropriate metric would be whether or not the students were successful in their studies, with the support of their teacher. Unfortunately, this would mean that administrators would have to have a close rapport with both students and teachers in order to assess the outcome; and its just so much easier to hand out a test and a grade.
Our teachers are already over burdened with paperwork. Let's not add needless testing to the process. Let's focus on finding human friendly, supportive methods of measuring ability; and look at the connections between the teacher and the students to see if the educational relationship yields the successes we need.
Until next time, happy reading!