Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Testing Frustration

My child is in daycare. It's a good daycare. It's not going to win any academic awards (like the one affiliated with my university), but it is accredited by NAEYC, and it is academic enough that the town will allow residents to keep their children in the daycare for kindergarten.* Therefore, the school/daycare has to monitor the children's development; after all, the other institutions want to make sure the kids are keeping up to their standards.
The school uses a standardized kit. Said kit is produced by an educational organization that's over 40 years old, and is published by several well-known educational publishers.** It does all sorts of tasks that remind me of my developmental psychology class. Since I am not up on recent research in developmental psychology, nor in developmental psychological testing, I can only infer it gives results that are least average in accuracy-of-assessment, as compared to other tests out there. And for all I know, it may be better.
For some reason, my child didn't want to take it. In such cases, parents are allowed to come in & sit with the child during the test. So one day recently, that's what we did. I behaved myself, and didn't coach her, or give her extra clues to come up with the correct answers.
There were questions & tasks she isn't able to do on a consistent basis in day-to-day life. Frustrating for this former brilliant-child (why isn't my kid academically advanced? oh, right, because no one's pushing her and that's just fine, paranoia queen), but nonetheless developmentally normal. My problem with the testing came when she failed to correctly answer questions or do tasks that she nearly never does wrong anymore. At this point, the test had been going on for 45 minutes, we could hear other kids playing in the gym, etc.
The examiner seemed to be getting bored. I was certainly bored. It's no surprise that a pre-schooler was also bored.
It was pretty clear that she was making these mistakes because she was bored & no longer paying attention.
Yes, children need to learn to sit still for longish periods of time. Yes, they need to learn to concentrate. But this test isn't supposed to be testing that. It's supposed to test gross & fine motor skills, cognitive skills, and language. And my child wasn't making mistakes based on capabilities in those areas, she was making mistakes based on a lack of endurance. If the modules had been in a different order, she would have made mistakes in an entirely different area.
The test isn't an accurate assessment of what it's supposed to be testing.
That's what frustrates me.

*That is, kids can go from the daycare directly to first grade.
**I'm not linking to it, because my comments are directed at such testing in general.


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