Monday, August 25, 2008

The BENCHMARK! UGH!!!

OK, I will try to make this short and sweet because I am really tired and should be in bed right now, but of course I just have to get this little tidbit of news off my chest... My children passed the BENCHMARK! YEAH!

Now that I've hooped and hollered about that, I have to be honest; I HATE that test! I HATE everything about it! I HATE how stressed my kids get every time they have to take it. I HATE that they spend months just teaching kids how to take the test instead of really taking the time to teach them things that will help them grow and feel better about themselves as individuals. I HATE that it seems like a backwards way of learning (I will explain what I mean in a minute.) Anyway, I guess you've pretty much figured out I'm not a big fan of the Benchmark. :)

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for teachers (my mom and sister are teachers) and I greatly appreciate schools in general. However, being an individual that isn't very good at taking tests, well I just want to ask: "What does a test in its self really prove?"

Example A: When I was in high school, I went to take the SATs. I remember sitting there all nervous, because I am horrible at multiple choice and true and false tests... give me an essay question any day! Anyway, in walks in one of our star athletes, Mr. Popular, you know the type. The guy that the title "dumb jock" was created for! He comes in without a care in the world, sits down and finishes the whole test in thirty minutes. He brags later of how he just went through and randomly picked letters. The sad thing is, he had the second highest score out of our class!!!

Example B: ME. As I've already said, I'm a horrible test taker. I can have straight A's in English, yet do horrible on ACTs and SATs.

Example C: My son up until 3rd grade, never made lower than an 95%. He loved school and everything about it. Math was his favorite subject, then he hit 3rd grade. Granted we moved in the middle of the year, but he started making C's. The thing is today I receive his Benchmark scores and he has really high scores... what does it all mean? I'm still trying to figure out how he makes a C in math his last semester of 3rd grade when all they do is teach you how to take the test, yet he makes an Advanced score on the actual test, with his score being higher than the school, district and state average.

I guess what I'm saying is, do tests really tell us anything? Why do we put kids through all the stress? What happened to the old fashioned way of test taking...you study a subject, then take a test. Simple. Why do we have to have these week long testing periods?

I said I would explain my earlier statement of "backwards learning." Here it goes... my son is pretty good at doing math in his head, unlike me who has to write everything down or use a calculator. However, in math class last year, he got more points counted off for not showing his work than credit for having the correct answer. Why? It seems to me if a kid can already do math in his head, why do we want that kid to be like me and have to write everything down? It just seems a little backwards...

OK I'll get off my mama soapbox now. Truth is I'm tickled pink that my kids did GREAT! I just wish they didn't have all the pressure...

2 comments:

Poohpa said...

Sis,
Difficulty with tests is in your genes! Your mom and I "willed" you that "gift". Sorry! Give me a practical application and I'll do ok, but a multiple choice...well...
that just "multiplies" the difficulty. I recall taking tests that had listings and in order to pass, we developed codes using the first letters of each answer, then memorizing the code word, when that question came up, the code was our quick reminder of the answer. Example in music - the words "every good boy does fine" were the note codes for EGBDF, the lines of the score. Well, you get my point! The problem on reflection is that the study of whatever subject gave us some codes we would never use, and the information they represented did not really stick. Well, I could "wax" on that subject, but I won't.

One other comment. When you were telling Mom the news on the phone, I was struck by the term "benchmark". You know me, I have too try to decipher the meaning from the roots. What I keep seeing in my mind is some kid sitting on a hard desk "bench" taking a test, and it leaving him a reminder "benchmark" of the ordeal!

All that aside, I'm really proud of Kayla and Jordan for their obvious intelligence. I think it skipped my generation!

Love Ya,
Poohpa

Amber said...

This is our first year of the Benchmark. Yikes. Already dreading it.

Glad the kids did well.