Google+ Authentic Parenting: The perversive effect of tests, scores and grades

Monday, April 25, 2011

The perversive effect of tests, scores and grades

Testing completely ruins a childs social relationships. Testing not only creates different attitudes between siblings and peers, but also between the parent and the child.

When a children have been tested and graded, they are no longer seen as the individuals they are. Instead, they become the living transcripts of grades and scores. This leads to a distorted perception of the unique child and to an entire set of expectations posed upon the child by parents and teachers. This in turn might end up becoming a self fulfilling or self denying prophecy.
The child that has a good score, will be treated as a good student and can receive a boost in self esteem, leading him to perform even better, solely by the simple feeling of being acknowledge. Yet the student that scores badly may come to think that he's no good at anything and this may reflect upon his future grades.

Being graded often becomes the onset of an entire series of attitudes in parents. They might feel a child that scored badly needs some motivation, and move towards carrot and stick methods (f.e. If you score above average this semester, you will receive a playstations), resulting in the child cramming, only to get the reward, but not for self improvement.
In bettering his grade, a child will be praised, while a child that lowers his scores will be scolded.
Children who maintain high scores become 'neglected' because they are good students any way and don't need further attention. They do well enough on their own.

For the tested child, learning becomes a competion, in which he does or does not desire to partake. He may decide that he's not good enough and slip down the ladder of good grades, which may result in being transferred to less demanding classes or even special needs structures.
He might decide that he needs to be the best and study merely for grades, not for learning. 'Crammed' subjects are not assimilated and thus add up to little or nothing in the long run.


1 comment:

  1. I had never thought about testing as being potentially something that changes the relationship between a parent and a child. I can see it, though. Recently my daughter struggled with multiplication and division. We tried to help her, and we just gave up in many ways. I figured we'll try again next year when she faces the same types of problems, because in math class they have moved on and she is doing well. I didn't realize I had "written her off" in this area. Yesterday my dad asked her, "If I have a 9 pound ham that needs to be cooked for 25 minutes per pound, how long do I need to cook the ham?" I thought to myself there was no way she was even going to know how to begin that problem. She took out some paper and did first the multiplication to get the number of minutes, then converted that to hours and minutes like a pro. I was so proud of her, then I realized that she will learn in her own time. She did exactly that. When put in a real life situation, she proved that she knew exactly what multiplication and division were and how to use these skills. This is something no test was ever going to show me. My daughter simply needed for these skills to be put into a different context for her abilities to be displayed.

    Embarrassingly, I am a teacher. I sometimes hold onto those test scores like they are gold. They PROVE that I have done my job and taught the children what they need to know. The truth is, I may not have reached them at the level that my daughter proved to me is yesterday is the important part. She was able to USE the knowledge, not just parade it around like a banner when needed just to be thrown away a few steps down the road.

    Thank you for reinforcing a concept I learned myself yesterday. Test scores don't mean a thing in the end, and students shouldn't be viewed as their grades. It is important to remember to look at the whole child.


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