I never saw a multiple choice test until I decided to become a teacher in America. Having gone through the Danish school system, of course, there were tests but they happened at the end of the year and were written and oral exams, not just fill in the bubble and the machine will take care of the rest. The first time I took a multiple choice test was for placement exams for my education degree, at first I thought it was fun, after all, all you had to do was fill in a bubble? I didn’t have to explain or even comprehend, I could just guess? Breeze through and forget about it all afterwards. Throughout college I studied, after all, I am an overachiever and yet whenever I came across the multiple choice test my spirit instantly died. I was glad that it didn’t affect my teacher, only myself and my grade, because I would doubt myself so much on some of the answers, meant to be tricky, that often I wouldn’t even know what to put down even though I knew the material.
We forget to think about how it must feel for kids to be solely responsible for teacher’s pay and jobs. How must it feel for students that if they do poorly on a test it will directly affect the teacher that they love? Kids are not stupid, they are aware of what is happening around us, how politicians and “reformers” are asking their test scores be part of something bigger. For this text-anxious child that knowledge would have been the nail in the coffin. People say that with this knowledge students will do even better because they will want to protect their teacher, to show off what they know. No child goes into a test trying to deliberately fail, at least not most, and yet placing that pressure of someone else’s livelihood and dream is just too much for children to bear.
What are we doing to the children of America? What pressure are we placing them under? How can we force them through more rigorous assessment to get them ready for the future when that could mean that their teachers no longer get to teach. We worry that America is too anxious, too many kids are being diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and other pill-needing maladies. And then we wonder what happened? Why are all these children feeling so pressured? Why can they not cope with “kid stuff” – well look at our schools and what we do to them. Education is no longer for the kids, it is for the politicians.
Cross posted on my blog