What’s the Real Purpose of All This Testing?


Kid walking alone There’s a week approaching that usually arrives when the weather warms. No, not Spring Break. This week is all about stress, skill, competition, failure, and success: state standardized testing. For students, it means blood-shot eyes and frazzled nerves. For parents, some are worried but not enough. For politicians, it’s either a feather in a cap or out the window. For school districts, it’s an expensive headache. The state claims it’s a performance review, but exactly who needs to be reviewed is open for debate. What’s the real purpose of all this testing? Good question.

Nearly 80 years ago, a group of educators from the University of Iowa developed a way to determine the strengths and weaknesses of pupils and improve classroom instruction. Back then and through the 70’s, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills was given to students in half the country. Other schools used the California Achievement Test, but both were only one day’s worth of math, reading, and filling in little ovals with a #2 pencil. Those days are now weeks. Those ovals are now followed by 5-paragraph essays. Those pencils will soon be replaced by laptops. Much has changed with school testing over the last 40 years, but not everyone is happy about it.


This is a story I contributed to a new website dedicated to education.  I’ve had these thoughts for a long time but no reason to type them all out.  This new website is as good a reason as any.  

Please click on either the picture above or this link right here to read the rest of the story…

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10 thoughts on “What’s the Real Purpose of All This Testing?

    • thanks very much for slugging through all of it. a friend and his wife are homeschooling and wanted to begin something regarding education trends and news. so he asked if had any thoughts in my head about what schools are doing right or wrong, and i said, “yeah, i’ve been thinking about something for a while.” so i spilled my guts, and there it is.

      • Great start. I have always taken issue with testing. I don’t think it does anything for the children and it distracts from true education. You did a very good job.

      • much appreciated. this was supposed to be one of the chapters in the “rise and fall of me” series, but i got to the end and forgot about this info. glad there was a reason to think about it again.

  1. And more standardization with common core. I have been frazzled by the homework my daughter brings home. I once read an essay my mother wrote in the 8th grade and it was more like a college level essay! Seems like we knew what we were doing 60 years ago because the writing I read today from kids, is atrocious to say the least. Scary even to see what college grads now produce!

    Can’t we go back to the education values we used to have when people simply learned how to do math, read, write, and think both critically and logically??????

    • i sure wish we could go back to that because that was real information that we needed for life. now, school is too much about entertainment and catering to children who don’t want to learn. thanks for reading and for being unhappy about the current course of education.

  2. Hi Rich,
    There was an article in the newspaper this week about a U of AR education prof who held his fourth grader out during four days of testing last week. Apparently, there is a movement among parents opposing the testing, because they believe there is overemphasis on the subjects covered on the test, leading to underemphasis or other important subjects, especially the arts, which are disappearing from the curriculum. I remember the Iowa tests and I think one day is sufficient for testing. They waste a whole week on testing here. Interesing post. Ron

    • thanks. they waste a week of testing in NJ and they waste at least three more weeks on test preparation. i don’t know where education is heading, but it doesn’t look good.

  3. As I’ve been saying to my friends this week, since we’ve finished our testing as well, “We’re gonna use the sh*t outta some #3 pencils from here on out.” So glad the test is behind us for the year. Getting a classroom full of children with emotional/behavioral disorders through a test, where they are expected to sit silently and still for hours on end…torture…for all of us.

    • that’s a great line about the #3 pencils. wish i had thought of that. as for kids with disorders, yes, that’s one very unfair aspect of the testing standards in place. luckily, they are changing, but we don’t know if they will change for the better. thanks for reading and sharing.

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