What Really Counts?

I am spending today and all day tomorrow sitting in the training for the Illinois Kids Assessment.  It is a kindergarten assessment where teachers observe and evaluate students on a minimum of four domains and fourteen indicators. All kindergarten teachers are required to participate in two full days of training.

This assessment is mandated by the State of Illinois.  Call me crazy, but it just seems wrong to evaluate a five-year old on his/her academic and social emotional skills and send the student results “by name” to the state database.

I believe in assessing students so that teachers can effectively determine each child’s learning needs and provide responsive, beneficial instruction that leads him/her toward greater success.

However, assessment is over used and misused so often that we drift from its true purpose of understanding a child as a reader, writer, and thinker in order to help them grow.  It has become a tool to compare children and “flag” their weaknesses.

I remember the criteria given the first time I went to a State RtI training.  The speaker said, “The best assessment is quick, easy, and cheap!”  Then, he went on to show meaningless assessments that followed that criteria and made nice charts.  Really?

Incredibly, that mentality has penetrated the educational system, and district after district implements the same useless assessment tools that actually work against quality instruction in most cases.  Why?  Because… they are quick and easy, but not necessarily cheap.  Unfortunately, the waste is not only in dollars, but also in potential scholars.

Albert Einstein stated, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”  When are we going to start to listen?

How can we teach students to use common sense, when we, the adults, can’t manage to use it ourselves?





7 thoughts on “What Really Counts?

  1. Gotta love government mandates! Nice slice – I liked your quote from Einstein. I’m going to use a quote in one of my slices – thanks for the idea!


  2. Maybe our voices will be heard when the politics pulls out of education. Teachers need to have more of a say what is happening within the world of education. Teachers and research can have an impact. I hear your voice!


  3. failingreatly says:

    Preach! I love that Einstein quote; it exemplifies exactly what we deal with by treating children as numbers. Maybe we need to make them t-shirts that say: “I am not my reading level.”


  4. Sonja Schulz says:

    It often feels as though those of us who actually work with children are left screaming in the wind with no one listening. Maddening. I feel your passion, I hear your words. I can’t change much in the big scheme of things, but know that you are not alone in these thoughts.


  5. It’s always puzzling to me how so many of us agree with your position, but somehow, these policies continue. Who is standing up saying, “hey, yeah, these assessments are just what we need!!”. I’ve never heard an educator think that these assessments are a good idea.


  6. I agree with your thoughts, and those of the commenters, too. I’m with Ellin- why do the policies continue when we hear so much dissatisfaction over them? I always think, too, since they are not cheap, why doesn’t the money alone cause it all to stop?


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