A 13-year-old eighth grader in upstate New York woke up on Sunday and decided that it would be funny if she designed a standardized test that made fun of standardized tests. (See below) After all, Sophia Stevens was getting ready to take one of the state's new Common Core-aligned standardized tests on Tuesday, so the subject was on her mind.
Unfortunately, she said, she has plenty of occasions to think about standardized tests because kids have to take too many of them. She doesn't like it, she said, "because teachers are always teaching to the test instead of teaching stuff that would interest us or that they are good at teaching."
She designed a mini eighth-grade reading test, complete with tips on taking the test, a complete reading passage and multiple choice questions to answer. The reading passage begins:
Dear New York State,
I am not fond of your tests. They do not show you who I am, or who my teachers are. For example, if a student is a bad test taker, you would look at her test and think she is a bad student. What happens if a kid is just having a bad day? You would only see that one test and and think he was an unsatisfactory pupil. Imagine how stressed the teachers are having to rely on their students' test scores as a form of evaluation.
Not all students are the same, therefore standardized tests are impractical. Albert Einstein once said, "Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." These tests can lower self-esteem and cause a lot of anxiety. The tests are so long that, by the last day of testing, some kids end up guessing, just so they can be done. How can you put eight-year-old kids through six days of testing over a two-week time frame?.
Children with special needs have even greater trouble with these exams. The tests are a total waste for them.
Sophia is a high-achieving student (she has a 97.2 average) at Saranac Middle School in Saranac, N.Y. Her mother said she came up with the idea for this test all on her own. She worked on it for hours, and then realized that it was more than a joke. "She has a great perspective," Laura Stevens said about her daughter.
Sophia said she normally has no problem with all of the standardized tests she has to take in school, but this new Common Core-aligned exam was harder than the others. "I'm a little worried about this one," she said.
Here's Sophia Stevens' standardized test that critiques standardized tests:
-- Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University 625 Wham Drive Mail Code 4610 Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O] (618) 457-8903 [H] Fax: (618) 453-4244 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org