When I read this week that Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School successfully raised their grade from an F to a C during the past year, I felt relief for the students and staff at the school. It couldn’t have been easy to have your school graded in such a public, callous way and then rise above and find ways to improve. The two methods used to up their grade were supplying plentiful snacks before testing time and spending more class time learning test-taking strategies. It is this latter part that saddens me. Our public school kids and teachers are required to spend more time on better test-taking – and less time experiencing science, arts, math and everything else.
I have a 12-year-old who wants to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT). Since he is dyslexic and homeschooled, you can bet your bottom dollar I have already reviewed the application process. Many things come to mind as I look ahead for his application to one of the worlds most prestigious places of learning. And getting good at testing is not one of them. MIT has specific recommendations for homeschooled applicants including exhibiting entrepreneurial spirit, taking advanced classes during high school, participating in extra curricular activities, taking collaborative summer programs and having varied recommendations. No where does it suggest increasing test-taking skills. As MIT so aptly puts it in the admissions information on their website, “Standardized tests are required for any freshman application to MIT. However, they are not the only factor, or even the most important factor…We admit people not numbers”.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
(The photo above shows my son watching a 3D printer in action at the UMaine Engineering Expo in March of 2014)