All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.


16 November 2013

Testing: Who holds the cards?

I want you to imagine the following scenario.

A high school history class comes into the classroom and sits down.  There's some talking here and there as the students wait for the bell.  The bell rings.  The teacher clears her throat.

"First order of business... I want to remind you all to get a good night's sleep.  Tomorrow's the state's learning assessment test.  We'll be on a special schedule."

A hand goes up.

"Yes, Charles?"

"Ms. Indigo, why are we taking these tests?"

"People want to know how well our school is doing."

"Yeah, but why are WE taking these tests?"

"Because you have to."

"Says who?"

"Says the state."

"Will my colleges see my scores?"


"Will they affect my grades in any way?"

"Well, no."

"Will these scores keep me out of honors classes?"


"Does the score I get actually affect me in any way?"

"It goes into your permanent record."

"Does anyone outside this campus care?"

"The state cares."

"Did the state say I had to try my best on the test?"

"Well, no.  But don't you want to do your best on the test?"

"I don't know.  That's what I'm trying to figure out.  What's in it for me?"

"Well it helps the school's reputation."

"But what's in it for me?"

"Well, you don't want to get a bad result on the test."

"Why not?"

"People might think you're not as smart as you really are."

"But that wouldn't be a problem if I announced that I'm deliberately tanking the test, would it?"

"But you'd have to just sit there if you just picked answers at random."

"But I have to just sit there anyway, don't I?"

"Well, yes.  But what are you going to do?"

"I think I'm going to ask you for $1,000.  Not you, I mean.  The school.  And," he says, looking around the room, "I think all of you ought to ask the school for $1,000, too."

The classroom erupts into murmurs and laughter.

"Go to the principal's office."

"Is he going to pay me to take this stupid test?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes! When I was in grade school the part I liked best about standardized tests was that they didn't "count." And they were easy so they made me look smart. I was too much of a goody goody to deliberately bomb them though.