When I came across this picture, I felt it perfectly summarized just how unrealistic and hypocritical the academic expectations of our children have become! On one hand, we (as educators and parents) stress to our children the importance of performing well on formal tests, and hold them to a standard of high performance to exemplify their academic capabilities. On the other hand, we tell them to embrace their individuality, accept their flaws with grace, and pursue the things that they naturally excel at. What a confusing message! Obviously, not all students learn the same way – and likewise, they do not all perform well in merely one format of assessment.
During this time in the school year, I often get panicky phonecalls from parents who are concerned as to how testing is weighing in on their child’s educational experience. Between the barrage of standardized testing (i.e.: Keystones, PSSA’s, SAT/ACT, etc.) and regular classroom assessments, are students really able to truly absorb information AND demonstrate their comprehension of concepts through a written test? Or does this format cause students unnecessary anxiety to temporarily memorize information–and deplete them of the opportunity to develop as individuals, each with unique areas of strength?
The reality is that students should be given the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in various ways. Formal written tests certainly have their place – and some students perform very well with this format. However, many other students would greatly benefit from utilizing writing prompts, creative projects, oral presentations, and the opportunity to discover the relevance of newly learned material in their everyday life. By personally connecting with what they learn, students are not only more likely to perform better on tests, but to also retain the information much longer – and utilize it later.
As parents and educators, we must come together and develop a strategy for assessment that supports each type of learner. I believe that the key to bridging this gap is communication. Here’s how:
- Communicate with your child. Find out why they might be struggling with a certain testing format. Remind them to take responsibility for the learning process –and that you are there to support them.
- Communicate with your child’s teachers. Get involved – and ask about how students are assessed in the classroom. If your child’s grades consistently reflect low test scores, ask if there is another way in which they can exemplify comprehension of new material.
- Seek out resources that can help. I often tell my clients: “Don’t be afraid to take the ‘Educator’ cap off, and keep only the ‘Parenting’ cap on!” While it is your job to help your children, it can be overwhelming to take on too many roles. Don’t be afraid to admit when it’s time for some outside help. Individual tutoring is an excellent way to not only help your child in the immediate – but to also teach them the tools to navigate through future challenges. Working with a tutor will not just “patch” the problem and earn your child better grades. Rather, it will get to the foundation of their obstacles and build their confidence as they implement strategies for success – even in a testing format that they previously struggled with. If your child needs help mastering the skill of test-taking, consider contacting Triumph Tutoring, Inc. We serve students in the Chester County Area – and can develop an Individualized Action Plan that makes it possible for your child to truly accomplish better results – no matter what format of testing they encounter.
Knowledge is power – so stay informed. Continue to encourage your child to embrace their individual strengths, and learn from their mistakes. The only test that really matters is the test of their desire to continue to do whatever it takes to learn and succeed. That’s the truth!