Standardized tests have never been one of my favorite things. Every three years while I was growing up, I had to undergo a reevaluation for my IEP. As a part of this process, I always had to take a test called the Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities.
I always dreaded taking this test because I do not believe it showed my potential to the fullest. It showed that I struggled with mathematics and spatial skills. This just meant that I wouldn’t be a math teacher or an engineer when I was done with school. I took all kinds of career assessments when I was in high school. The problem with these assessments was that they never catered to my individual needs. Standardized tests of any kind have always been a challenge for me. I recall being asked if I wanted to be an engineer while taking one assessment during my sophomore year of high school.
Anybody who knows me knows that I have a tough time with math due to my CP. There was absolutely no way that I was going to be an engineer. However, just because I don’t excel in mathematics doesn’t make me worthless. Nobody is good at everything.
In the spring of my sophomore year of high school, as a part of my reevaluation, I met with the speech-language pathologist to do some testing. I was a little puzzled as to why, because I had never received speech therapy before. It turned out to be a social skills test. For the first half-hour, she held up images of different facial expressions and asked me to identify them. I found this unhelpful and banal. I don’t usually have difficulty identifying facial expressions.
The next step was asking me to fill out worksheets called “friend files,” which were sheets about who my friends are, why I liked them, and where I met my friends. At the end of the session, a meeting was scheduled to go over the results of these tests. I prepared a written statement to be read by my mother at this meeting. I couldn’t attend because I was giving a presentation on René Descartes in history class that afternoon. I felt like I had to defend myself. In my eyes, I didn’t have any problems interacting. High school is a challenging time socially for all students. I tend to be quieter and more reserved as it is. I am out of school now and managed to form friendships with nobody’s help.
Standardized tests never showed my talents, flaws, challenges, and gifts. I was more than a test score or an evaluation. Standardized testing creates an us and them mentality. The “good” and “bad” students are decided through standardized testing. Those who are described as “my low students,” “my learning impaired kids,” or “my reluctant learners” are the “bad students.” The ones who are the “good” students are stuck, trapped in a cycle of success that they must sustain at all costs.
Wright, Peter W.D, and Pamela Darr Wright. “Tests and Measurements for the Parent, Teacher, Advocate and Attorney.” Reading Rockets, Reading Rockets, 23 Dec. 2013, http://www.readingrockets.org/article/tests-and-measurements-parent-teacher-advocate-and-attorney.