Redwood Falls Gazette
  • TROY'S COLUMN — Test taking is a necessary evil

  • It's a blessing in life to test well at most subjects in school — and then there's math....
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  • From the time I started school until I graduated from college, I saw success academically for a couple of reasons. First of all, I was a pretty good writer and actually enjoyed writing research papers. Secondly, I was always one who tested well. Naturally, there were exceptions to that rule. One of the most obvious exceptions for me was the math test. I hated math for lots of reasons, but the one primary source of my emphatic dislike was there was always a cut and dried answer to the posed question. When I was able to take tests that included essay questions or had to do with literature, history or even science to a degree I could successfully “word” my way through just about anything. Multiple choice tests were typically pretty easy for me, because, for the most part, the answer was right there in front of me as I took the test. Having a good memory helped me a lot, too. Back when I was in school we had standardized tests known as the Iowa Basics, and those tests were used to gauge where students were academically speaking in various subjects. I always took the Iowa Basics tests seriously, because I wanted to be able to brag a little and to get that extra pat on the back for scoring high nationally. Over the next few weeks students in schools across the state are going to be taking a number of tests in reading, math and science. Known as the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) these tests are administered annually to determine how well a student is growing academically and to help schools see whether or not the programming being offered is meeting the state’s standard. I honestly feel bad for kids today and am glad I don’t have to take the tests they are required to do each year. After all, there is a much greater sense of importance placed on these standardized tests than the ones I took. Emphasis is placed on putting forth their best effort, and strategies are reviewed during the year in the classroom as students prepare to take these tests. Having sat through a number of test results presentations at school board meetings I know how important it is for schools to see growth. After all, the government and the public are watching, and there can be consequences for those not demonstrating that growth. I want to encourage parents to talk with their children about these upcoming tests which they are going to be taking and to help them see how important it is for them to do their best. Make sure they are getting enough rest. Provide for them the kind of nutrition they need. Stress the importance of the tests, but don’t create an environment of anxiety. From my perspective, there are too many tests students are required to take today. They are what I would call a necessary evil. We need to have them to gauge growth, but we also need to remember they are one measurement tool among many that help education leaders see how well a student is doing. Schools, such as the Red-wood Area School District, do use that data gleaned from test results to make improvements that result in better programming for our kids. So, kids, do your best. Take the tests seriously. Get enough rest, and show up on test day. Your school is depending on you.
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