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The Crazy-making Testing of Five Year Olds

September 28, 2013

Yesterday I posted an article about the standardized preschool tests that elite private schools use for entry and public schools use to identify so-called gifted and talented  students. Today’s installment reacts the appalling practice of a school district in FLA, where children begin learning how to take tests as part of their Kindergarten experience.

A reader of Diane Ravitch sent a message describing her daughters first experience at test taking in Palm Beach FLA that included this passage:

Each student was separated by a cardboard wall of blinders around them and they were given a five page test on numbers one through five. They had to write the number, the word for the number and draw how many dots represented the number. At a local union meeting, I asked a Kindergarten teacher from another school if she…surround(ed) each student by blinders. She nodded in affirmation, (saying she was) told “They have to be prepared to be tested in first grade.”

This is the meta-message we are sending our children from the time they are born: they need to be prepared to pass a test and they need to work independently to achieve anything.

We like to think we are a country where we don’t sort kids based on test scores. We would be appalled at the notion of adopting some kind of system where one test given at age 12 or 17 determines your lot in life. Instead of designing schools to inculcate a love of learning we are designing utilitarian schooling that prepare students for an endless battery of tests that will follow them through life.

We like to think we are a country that requires teamwork and interdependence yet our schools are increasingly competitive and learning is done in isolation.

If public schools continue down this path of joylessness and uniformity more and more parents who seek creativity and free-spritiedness in education will abandon our schools. Watch… it’s happening already.


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