What Standardized Testing Doesn’t Measure

This is the story of an extremely bright student who, although he was captain of the his nationally recognized robotics team, had all but given up the idea of higher education. He was one of those students that I say, “slips through the cracks.”

Nothing about his performance in school would have qualified him for special education, and most people would have just passed him off as just an “average student” or a student that just “gets by.”

Without intervention these are the students that can end up failing to see their true potential.

Due to his inability to “get it” when it came to reading and writing assignments he had come to the conclusion that college just wasn’t for him. Because he was bright, he had figured out exactly what he had to do on assignments that didn’t involve writing in order to obtain a seventy percent passing grade. Seventy percent!

Obviously, he could problem solve but there was obviously something derailing his school work. Time was of the essence. He was already in his senior year of high school!

What Does Standardized Testing Measure?

The Texas STAAR program as well as any other standardized test measures the Essential Knowledge and Skills as determined by a state’s curriculum standards.

In other words, how well does a student remember the information presented through the designated grade level curriculum and how well are they able to interpret the questions written on the test and determine the right answer as presented in a multiple choice format.

Standardized testing DOES NOT measure THE IMPACT OF:

  • the ability to see a complete word from first letter to last
  • a students ability to classify and conceptualize multiple items
  • if a student is misreading beginnings and endings
  • if a student is able to conceptualize similarities and differences in meanings
  • if a student can readily recognize new words
  • the students ability to hold information in mind while “processing it at the same time”

What Does the SOI Measure?

Standardized Testing Measure

These are only six of the twelve different intelligences the Structure of Intellect system has identified as essential for the area of READING. Reading, as we know, also impacts Social Studies, Science, Mathematics, and Language Arts and many more endeavors.

As you can imagine, a student struggling with any one of these abilities will have difficulty learning the information presented in the classroom (no matter how good the teacher!) and therefore perform lower on standardized tests.

Many smart individuals with just one or two underdeveloped abilities that cause them difficulty, wrongly conclude that they are just “not smart” or “not college material” as was the case with the student I was working with. This isn’t the truth AT ALL!

There are fourteen additional cognitive abilities that impact success in the other curriculum areas, not to mention the perceptual areas we screen for that can impact a student’s physical ability to even address the curriculum.

So what can be done to help these bright students who are “slipping through the cracks?”

In the case of this particular student, we assessed his cognitive ability and found many areas of strength….and some weaknesses. Because time was short, we met and decided on a very intense program of perceptual training coupled with intense cognitive training for the areas of weakness (evaluation).

His goal was to get himself in a position to be able to succeed in college. Therefore, this victory is his! With determination he persevered in the Synap2it! program throughout the school year, graduated high school, and is a now a successful student of engineering at a prominent university.

He continues to evaluate his options well and makes good choices.……and has turned into an avid reader!

Although standardized tests can accurately measure some things, how sad would it be if we based our entire opinion of a student’s academic ability on the limited results of one test?

In the case of the student I had been working with, he may never have realized his potential and he might have closed the door on opportunities that could significantly affect his destiny!

So, before we make too many assumptions about our students and children based on what these standardized tests measure, let’s start by asking ourselves, “What DON’T standardized tests measure?” The answer may surprise you!

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Renee Anderson

The founder & director of EducationPathways and Synap2it! Learning Center, Renee Anderson is a veteran educator whose career spans over 25 years in both public and private schools. During this time, she has worked in regular classroom settings, special education and in intervention. She became an SOI Structure of Intellect Advanced Trainer in 1996, achieved the SOI Associate designation in 2001 and now acts as a National Trainer and Senior Program Consultant for SOI Systems, Inc. Learn more

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