Who Says… We Need Tests?

Part of the series Who says…
Written by Léo Gaumont, published on 2015-01-19.

Test writing is a skill worth learning while testing is only necessary to ascertain proficiency, not an end in and of itself.

Building on a foundation that God is, that He created the universe and that He ultimately is responsible for our children’s being, should provide ample substance upon which to build our faith. This lengthy series will identify the secular thinking that has eroded that faith.

Bible Reference: Acts 15:10

One of the scariest words in the English language has to be “test”! Although it may not throw everyone into a bad mood, testing is not likely to be on many people’s list of things they like to do. Why do we need to test at all? How is testing done? What does testing prove? All good questions that need answers.

The test is a natural part of programming and it is a way to determine proficiency but when should testing actually be a part of training and teaching? If we follow a schedule of subjects in a particular grade where a multitude of children of approximately the same age are doing the same thing at the same time in a prescribed way with “standardized” expectations, a test is required to measure the mastery of the program. One teacher in a class of a couple dozen children does not have the privilege of looking over every student’s shoulder and to ask them what they have learned, like home educating parents do. A one-size-fits-all approach to teaching has to have a way to evaluate what has been learned, but this has no place in a home education. Parents not only instinctively know if their child has met with the program requirements, but they also demand excellence in the first place. Home educated students don’t need to be tested when they are simply expected to learn the concept as completely as reasonably possible within an environment of trust and honesty.

We tend to think of tests as multiple choice, true or false, or short answer questions, but life tests us in much different ways. Life does not grade us as 50, 75 or 90 percent, but as pass or fail. Learn your lesson and carry on. Paper test may give us a bit of an idea as to who better knows the concepts, but is this dependable? Does the higher mark indicate a better grasp of the subject or that the student is simply a better test writer? If there is anything I learned in my twenty five years as a high school teacher, it is that the student that achieved the highest mark would most likely not be the one who I would hire. Rather, I would hire the student who was smart enough to deliver the passing mark of 50% while fully aware that the testing was all part of a game that could be won with minimal effort. The higher achievers were usually very good at doing what they were told but usually could not repeat their results the next day.

Testing is a part of the real world. Whether we are seeking a driver’s license, certification or to prove proficiency, testing will be the vehicle through which these things will be accomplished. How to write tests is, therefore, an important skill that students must learn, but it need not be the final evaluation tool for every lesson.

Who says we have to write tests? Unfortunately, the world we live in does, but it need not be implemented until later, when it is taught as a necessary skill to advance to the next level. There is plenty of time to teach this at the conclusion of the home education program. Drop the need to test. Your children will love you for it!

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