Testing is not Teaching

"Believing we can improve schooling with more tests is like believing you can make yourself grow taller by measuring your height." Robert Schaeffer.

It’s pretty obvious to those of us in education – testing is not teaching. Meaningful learning is a by-product of teaching – not of testing. Too often testing is used to label and punish – a student is labeled, a school is graded and/or a teacher is evaluated. The most heartbreaking is a student being labeled as a failure because of high stakes testing. For some, this label carries over into their adulthood.

Think of art. If you want to test art look at a coloring book picture. Check to see if the student stayed inside the lines. It’s measurable, but have they really learned about art? To truly teach art you inspire creativity and uniqueness – in other words, you want them to think outside the lines. The next Rembrandts or Picassos aren’t the ones being taught to merely stay inside the lines. Teaching is not paint by numbers – it’s inspiring the next generation. That is not testable.

Testing should be used to improve instruction and student learning. As in the quote above, we want to know if we are growing, but we certainly shouldn’t be labeled because we simply haven’t had that growth spurt yet.

Thanks to each of you who focus on being a teacher – not on being a tester.


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