Monday, March 23, 2009

Testing Reading

This op-ed shot up the NY Times Most Emailed List today, so it must be resonating with other people besides me. Before reading this, I hadn’t realized that standardized reading tests divorce the skill of reading from the content students should read at each grade level by testing comprehension of random passages, as if reading is a skill that exists in a vacuum. Yet another reason to be deeply suspicious of an educational system tied to testing. If the tests are content-less, then teachers have to spend class time teaching test-taking skills rather than teaching students how to read actual content, real texts. As a literature professor, I am especially irritated by the idea that anyone ever thought it was possible to test reading – and thus to teach to such tests – without actually reading a wide range of real, significant, important texts! Read books! Both reading to kids and helping them to read to themselves should simply be the major cornerstone of education. How complicated is that?

3 comments:

Jena said...

Absolutely! And all the work they spend on trying to decipher a text just makes them hate reading and shut down. I couldn't agree more. Testing just makes education mechanical, lifeless, tasteless, useless. Thank you for another brilliant post. :)

sgaissert said...

I couldn't agree more. And hey, I think my comment is going to work this time. Thank you so much for your efforts to help with that. Your posts are wonderful.

growingflowers said...

Oh I agree, agree, agree!!! In fact at the moment my fifteen year old is reading the most amazing books. I've been listing the books on our blog. Last night was one of those wonderful nights when our entire dinner consisted of my husband (an East German) dramatically telling the tale of Faust and then Treska discussing in deep detail the book she is reading right now! The Brothers Karamazov. Oh - it was one of those moments homeschooling parents love - when you feel confirmed as you watch your children talk knowledgeably and confidently about literature. This has been one of my main goals homeschooling.