Testing Students with a Purpose

Hilliard City Schools

red_quiz_button_1600_clr_3763Unit tests, spelling tests, achievement tests, final exams, state tests . . . we all have experiences and memories studying for, cramming to prepare for and taking tests. We’ve made flashcards, held study groups, drilled, practices and memorized as part of our education experience.

We’ve studied and prepared to earn higher grades, we’ve studied to earn praise and we’ve worked to avoid negative consequences. Some among us are intrinsically motivated; we simply want to work hard for the sake of learning. For others external consequences – the rewards or punishments – provide the motivation to do well. Tests have a place in schools . . . it just must be the right place.

Testing and assessment is part of the fabric of our school climate – and I’m not advocating at all of an end to assessments. I am simply asking that we utilize assessments to advance personalized student learning. Let’s work together to use the appropriate assessments to personalize learning.

I unequivocally believe that if we remove the pressure of the one-size-fits-all testing model from our classrooms, if we empower our teachers to personalize education, that the mandated assessments will take care of themselves. It’s simple . . . teachers embracing assessments as part of improving instruction, working in an environment that inspires greatness in the classroom and empowering students to perform at higher levels. Yes, we operate in a climate of mandated government assessments, but what’s more important in Hilliard is an environment that empowers teachers and inspires students.

I firmly believe that the primary focus of any assessment is to determine what a student knows and to inform instruction for future learning opportunities. As educators, we want to encourage each individual student to understand, apply and demonstrate that he/she has mastered the desired information. If a student is lacking in any area, we then want to fill the gaps; we want to use the assessment to provide areas where the student is lacking mastery. It isn’t about a grade; it certainly isn’t about punishment. It’s about personalized student learning. Our core mission is to prepare each student for tomorrow; let’s make sure our students are more than successful at tests. Let’s make sure our students are prepared to be successful in life.