Standardized Testing, Perception and Reality

standardized testing

With the increased backlash against excessive testing both in the US and in other countries, elementary teachers in Ontario have taken a stand, asking that standardized testing in grades 3 and 6 be suspended for the next two years (“Elementary teachers call for a time-out on standardized testing”). This issue nicely illustrates the relationship between reality and perception. According to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, standardized testing “switched the agenda in their classrooms from learning to attaining higher scores, forcing them to abandon other elements of a balanced curriculum….

The students ‘are starting to think of school as a series of hoops to jump through – creativity and self-confidence falling off,’ said one teacher who participated.”

Certainly suggests that testing is almost anti-educational, doesn’t it? Who wants to squash creativity, negatively impact self-esteem, and reduce education to a series of nonsensical hoops? Speaking on behalf of the Education Quality and Accountability Office, Katia Collette counters with, “The testing results provide powerful information that contributes to accountability in the publicly funded school system and generates data that educators use to improve programs for all students.”

Wait a minute. This intimates that testing helps ensure tax dollars are spent wisely and educators have access to the best information possible to improve education for every child.

Both sides claim their comments reflect “reality.” In truth, they are simply different perceptions of a shared reality. This happens all the time. Most of us are egocentric enough to believe our perceptions match reality. It’s not unusual to hear people say, “They just don’t get it,” referring to those who have different perceptions. As someone once told me, “I get it all right. I just get it differently from you.” The next time you think you have exclusive rights on what’s real, remember that you really only have one perception of reality – yours.