In schools today, the average student has to take a bubble test in almost every subject that is taught. Math, Science, History, and Math all have End of Grade/Course exams. At least that is how testing started. Prior to the 1980’s the government was hands off. In 1983 a publication was released called A Nation at Risk saying that the United States was falling behind the rest of the world in how it was educating its students. This prompted President Reagan to start the National Commission on Excellence in Education. From here Bush Sr, Clinton, Bush Jr, and Obama have presented their own plans on education. But it wasn’t until 2002 and the No Child Left Behind Act was passed that testing turned into a mandatory thing in every school in almost every subject.
I remember the day were I entered Third grade and was told that we would be having a cumulative exam on everything we had covered over the course of the year in English and Math. As a kid who struggled with math and thrived in English, I had mixed emotions. That was the beginning. As a child under No Child Left Behind, slowly the testing moved from just being two courses that were tested to every class being tested. Even classes where the subject material is subjective, such as Music, Art, and PE were tested.
If you think about it, the average person spends anywhere between _16,000 and 17,000 hours of their life in school. Schools, at least the ones I have attended, have around 180 school days per year. I was in school from Kindergarten to my senior year. That’s 13 years of schooling. 180 time 13 is 2,340 school days. With each school day being about 7 hours, that’s 7 time 2,340. That adds up to 16,380 hours or 2 full years (no sleeping, no eating - just learning) spent in the classroom prior to coming to college. That is a lot of time spent inside of different classrooms for me to feel like I didn’t learn much.
Do you know why I don’t think I learned much? I believe it’s because I was “taught to the test”. What do you mean by “taught to the test”? I mean that instead of teachers being able to elaborate on what they are supposed to teach, they have to speed through the material in order for us to pass the exam. I was an honors kid, so you would think that I would be able to learn at a faster pace and learn more. But because teachers stressed the test, and almost nothing else, I was forced to swim or drown. I was forced to learn the material well enough to be able to retain it for when I needed it on the test. If I had chosen to go more in depth in any my studies I might miss something more broadly that I should be learning for the test.
This is important in my own future classroom because I want my students to learn and dive deeper into their studies rather than just memorize something for the test. The nice thing about teaching music is that I don't have to test as often, and I get to create my own test, as my fellow educators, but I still have to test my students. The unfortunate thing about testing in music is that it is all subjective - there is very little that is set in stone, instead its other people's opinions.
For more on the subject of testing students:
A Performer with a passion for Percussion.
Current News and Things I Find Interesting
On this Blog you will find 'not-so current' percussion topics that I think are important, as well as things that I find interesting and helpful. Maybe some education things will creep in?