In yesterday’s post, I talked about the relationship of motivation and confidence to student academic success. This morning, I received the following from a parent. I don’t know whether my piece motivated these thoughts or not, but I do know they are the thoughts of more and more parents in our over tested country. Here’s what the writer had to say.
It was refreshing and wonderful to watch my son play on the volleyball team this afternoon. It was their first game, away in Merrick. The team lost all 5 games, but they played with heart. They were continually being positively coached during their game on every play, by someone with a huge smile who enjoyed every moment. It was truly a learning experience for the players.
I can’t help but contrast this to the environment school has become, testing and quizzing kids to death, where every pencil mark on a piece of paper counts against them since every error is accounted for on the portal.
My son is reading a short story in school and has a test on it on Thursday, and is working on an essay to be graded on it as well. The previous short story somehow had 3 assessments on the very same day – a pop quiz, a RAFT paragraph for homework AND a take home quiz. And there was still more that was assessed for that story!
When I read short stories in school, we answered a few questions, discussed some major points. We moved on and read another story. My teachers were not compelled to assess us on every word that came out of their mouths. We read many stories, discussed and learned many things and lost little instructional time to testing.
Every week my son has 4-5 assessments of some sort in school and several that come home. I question why everything is summative with no formative scores beyond reading levels being kept.
Tonight my son applied a skill learned in ELA to his math homework. He read a complicated question and announced he could ignore what was actually crucial information needed to get the answer because it was a “distractor.”
It’s sad that the educational environment has become a place where kids are being trained to look for tricks when they should be focusing on learning. I’m unsure why almost every day must include at least one test. It’s become an anomaly for a day to not have a test or something due that “counts.”
I look forward to the next volleyball game on Thursday. I enjoyed seeing teaching staff teaching and kids learning, with no portal involved. Most of the kids on the team had no previous experience, background or knowledge of the sport, but I guarantee that they can repeat everything their coach has taught them about the rules of the game, strategies, scoring, etc. No need to assess them to make sure they “got” it. I doubt the coach would give up precious, limited practice time to give a quiz on everything she’s ever told them.
Perhaps academic subjects should take a lesson from sports teams. Motivation, positive encouragement, continual feedback, guidance and instruction lead to success. Non-stop assessing and filling in boxes on the portal does not.