Photo by Michele Venne

It’s around this time each year that school districts receive boxes of standardized tests, AP tests, end of course tests, etc. Even if administered via computer, there are boxes of pencils, instruction booklets, student passwords, and forms signed by teachers who are aware that if they cheat on the tests, they’ll lose their certificate.

Administrators work out alternate schedules for which students will take which tests on which days. This means that some classes won’t meet for several days, and other classes will be shortened. Depending on the assessment given, the results allow parents and school personnel to compare individual students against others in the district, the state, and across the country, or for the student to earn college or high school credit. This often equates to federal and/or state funds coming to the school or district. Because teachers generally don’t have the same students for the same class the following year, the results aren’t helpful in informing the teacher in how to adjust the content for students who didn’t show mastery on the exam.

In the weeks prior to the testing days, test-taking skills are reviewed, teachers are reminded of how to proctor the exams, bathroom passes and “Testing in Progress” door signs are laminated, pencils are counted and distributed, student passwords and/or testing booklets are counted and then locked in a secure location. A lot of money and countless hours by many people are used to discover if students can correctly answer questions about curriculum they should have learned. Some do very well. Some don’t.

It’s important to remember that this measure is but one of many when it comes to predictors of student school and life success, and that regardless of the outcome, students need to keep moving forward.