Am I a geek or a nerd?

What is a test?
September 28, 2010, 12:54 pm
Filed under: assessment, Uncategorized

A funny story about our kids and tests…

A good friend of mine has a 9-year-old who has recently begun wearing glasses. That he picked glasses stunning similar to mine is probably just a coincidence, but I like to think he thinks maybe I’m cool. But that’s neither here nor there. Apparently his eyesight is so poor that someone should have noticed his need for glasses quite some time ago, like maybe a two years ago, or more!

How is that possible you say? Teachers notice squinting kids. Parents notice squinting kids. Schools conduct vision screenings annually. How did our little friend go so long without anyone, even the school nurse, noticing? Because our little friend kept passing his vision screening. Every time, he got the bottom the line of letter right. When his teacher brought him down, when Mom asked the nurse to check, little friend could read the letters.

Or could he?

Turns out, back when he had his first vision screening, he heard the words ‘eye test’ and figured it was a test like another; if you knew the answers you got a passing grade. So when the nurse’s back was turned he looked at the chart and memorized the bottom lines (the ones he couldn’t see from far away) so that he would ‘pass’ his test. He’d been reciting memorized letters for quite sometime it seems and was very proud of himself for ‘passing’ his eye test every time.

I laugh at the that story but I also wince. We’ve made our kids believe that every single thing we ask them to do in school is graded and counted for or against them.  Maybe that’s a little extreme, and it’s just a misunderstanding, but have you ever asked students to do something and found that if a grade wasn’t attached or if there wasn’t a probability it would be on the test they would rather not?


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