Jun 21, 2013
"Every student can learn. Just not on the same day or in the same way."
- George Evans, the Illustrator
As a cartoonist and illustrator, George Evans understood firsthand the idea of everyone learning in different ways. While one student may be skilled in mathematics and learn best through written instructions, another could be a talented artist, thriving when offered a hands-on activity. This uniqueness in student strengths and abilities has led to debate over the effectiveness of standardized testing as a measure of student achievement.
Schools throughout the country are required to undergo standardized testing to assess teacher performance, evaluate student success and determine areas of curriculum in need of improvement. Historically, our elementary and middle school students have participated in Terra Nova testing to measure how our students compare to others across the country. Each year our students performed exceptionally well, and we have always been proud of the results.
This year we switched to the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress testing. This computer-based test is a formative assessment that responds dynamically to the child during testing. Following the test, teachers are given a full analysis of each student’s academic strengths and challenges. In our first year of testing, our students are performing, on average, about a half a year to a full year ahead of the national benchmark.
At World Academy, our teachers don’t teach to the test, nor do we put unnecessary pressure on students to achieve high scores. Our students are encouraged to do their best on these assessments without becoming stressed about the process.
A report from Education Insights at Public Agenda revealed that 90% of superintendents and 84% of principals think that assessment data is essential for monitoring student performance and improving teaching and learning. However, a variety of factors must be considered when analyzing the results. In “The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don’t Tell You What You Think They Do,” educational expert Gerald Bracey reminds that tests don't measure creativity, critical thinking, motivation, curiosity, leadership, civic-mindedness, honesty and other important qualities of successful students.
The educational experience our students receive at World Academy consists of many subjects not included on standardized tests, including world languages, technology, music, physical education and art. Through projects, performances and showcases of their skills, students can demonstrate proficiency in a range of subjects without being asked to take an assessment. We recognize that students come to us with very different strengths and talents, and our school strives to celebrate this diversity by evaluating students by more than their standardized test scores.
To learn more about NWEA Testing visit: www.nwea.org.