A Time and a Place for Everything

I really do believe that there is a time and a place for everything under the sun. A time for planting, a time for harvesting. A time to speak and a time to listen. A time to plan and a time to act. You get the idea. I read a great blog post this morning regarding standardized testing, and it reminded me of the all important time and place. As we gear up for SOL testing, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone of the place for this testing.

I have always agreed that accountability is important. I know that my community holds me accountable for operating the school, making sure we have quality staff, that instruction is solid and that finances are managed. We hold teachers accountable for a wide variety of things, but this word “accountability” seems to come up more as testing approaches. I think it is important to remember that we, as educators, are accountable every minute of every day, not just during testing. But what is the purpose of this testing? That is the thought that sparked this blog.

We need to keep in mind that testing has a place, but we also need to keep it in its place. What do I mean by that? Simply put, testing helps us see where we are as a staff and as a school. It also gives us an idea where are students are as well. But it is only ONE data point. It is a mere snapshot of what our students do, of what we do and who we are. Yes, it is important. But it is not the end all be all of education or of learning. I think it is equally, if not more, important to realize what these tests DO NOT measure.

SOL tests do not measure a student’s passion for a subject. They do not quantify talents for music, for art or for creative writing. The song in students a head that they create, or the poem from their heart that they write escape the scope of testing. Tests do not take into account a student’s love of the outdoors, of protecting our environment, of service to the community. Standardized tests do not measure human compassion for one another, the desire to help those who are ill or less fortunate. Testing does not help encourage a desire to create the next great invention. You get the idea.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very proud of the fact that our school does very well on our state test, and our results are always some of the best in the county and the state. I am prouder of the community service hours our students perform, the fundraising for charities, the shoe drives, book drives, sock drives, beautiful artwork and concerts, the sportsmanship our teams display and all the other things that are not reflected in a test score. As we get closer to the testing window, let’s remember to keep testing in its place.

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About drellena

Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. President of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.
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