Please remove the stress from assessments, tests & evaluations
I am not new to testing, both as a teacher and a parent.
- I was a certified middle school teacher and was familiar with the MEAP test.
- I have a ten year old who has experienced all kinds of neuro-psychological testing since he was two years old. We have assessed his IQ, academic achievement, speech, fine and gross motor skills, social skills and activities of daily living.
- I have experience evaluating tests to determine whether they would assess a child in the right manner.
- I administered tests and wrote reports.
So i was pretty sure I knew everything that I needed to know about testing….Boy was I wrong.
I am presently two classes away from finishing my Masters in Special Education with an autism endorsement. This semester I took a class on assessments. I was on the other side of the report this time. We had the opportunity to take an achievement test. We completed many of the sections that evaluated reading, writing and math. I knew that my scores were only going to be used for my classmate to write a report but it didn’t matter.
- I was stressed.
- I wanted to know if I was answering all the questions correctly.
- I wanted to know if I was scoring as high as possible.
- I was also distracted by the noise in the hallway.
- I was trying to wonder when I would be done.
- I was thinking about whether someone was remembering to let the dog out at home.
It was a nerve-wracking experience. After the test I couldn’t help but wonder how we could do this to our children. Now I am not saying that I have a better solution, but the formats we use right now are often not ideal. When the children are assessed through the schools there many considerations to be taken into account. For example:
- Having a typical schedule disrupted in order to be evaluated
- Interruptions in the testing period
- Embarrassment and loss of self esteem if they are pulled out of class by one of the “special” staff members, the speech therapist, the social worker or someone they have never seen before.
- Tests that take way too long (My brain was fried after an hour of testing).
So now I have a whole new perspective. Well, actually, now I have many new perspectives.
- As a teacher I wonder how I would find the right time and atmosphere to administer tests.
- As a parent I wonder how I would balance my desire to have as complete a picture as possible of my child, while having her take only the most necessary tests so she won’t be a wreak.
In summary I ask: With all the distractions, can a child possibly perform to their maximum potential? What is the ideal testing environment and when will we find it?