Saturday, December 11, 2010

Testing for Intelligence?

Considering a commitment to viewing young children holistically (i.e., a commitment to “the whole child”), what, if anything, do you believe should be measured or assessed? Explain your reasoning.

There should not be a standard assessment for young children. These types of test only measure whether or not a child has the ability to perform well on tests. It is, quite frankly, stressful on students, a stress that is not necessary. And ince evry child does not test well, how are we fairly assessing what a child does and does not know. I may be an exceptional student and test poorly, or an average student, but test extremely well.

Young children, as we have learned, should be given the opportunity to explore their environment. The current assessments take away a child’s natural tendency toward learning and education, as well as a teacher’s ability to challenge her student’s with new information.

The word educate has its roots in Latin (meaning to bring out or bring forth). I found the best definition comes from Webster when it states to educate is,” to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically, especially through instruction.

I have also found quotes from Socrates which validates my reasons for eliminating the process of standardized assessments:

"Educating the mind without the heart is no education at all.”

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

“I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think.”

“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

In what ways are school-age children assessed in other parts of the world? (Choose a country or region of the world for which you have a personal affinity.)

I was surfing the internet to find a concrete way in which children in other countries are assessed and found some interesting facts about Finland. There was mention of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This assessment was given to children in various nations, and Finland was found to have a smaller amount of disparities in high and low rankings and the U.S. had one of the highest. Here is an example of the educational structure in Finland:

The Finnish school system uses the same curriculum for all students (which may be one reason why Finnish scores varied so little from school to school).

Students have light homework loads.

Finnish schools do not have classes for gifted students.

Finland uses very little standardized testing.

Children do not start school until age 7

Finland has a comprehensive preschool program that emphasizes "self-
reflection" and socializing, not academics.

Grades are not given until high school, and even then, class rankings are not compiled.

Teachers must have master's degrees.

Becoming a teacher in Finland is highly competitive. Just 10% of Finnish college graduates are accepted into the teacher training program; as a result, teaching is a high-status profession. (Teacher salaries are similar to teacher salaries in the U.S., however.)

Students are separated into academic and vocational tracks during the last three years of high school. About 50% go into each track.

Diagnostic testing of students is used early and frequently. If a student is in need of extra help, intensive intervention is provided.

Groups of teachers visit each others' classes to observe their colleagues at work. Teachers also get one afternoon per week for professional development.

School funding is higher for the middle school years, the years when children are most in danger of dropping out.

College is free in Finland. (Wilde)


Wilde, Marian. "Global Grade: How do U.S. Students Compare?" 1998-2010. Great Schools. 10 December 2010 .

What additional ideas, comments, suggestions, examples, and/or concerns related to assessing young children would you like to share with your colleagues?

We have encountered a very serious issue in our educational system. Teachers are teaching for tests sake, not for the sake of a well developed individual. By “test-teaching’, children are no longer being encouraged to look within to discover all the possibilities knowledge can offer , they are being forced to regurgitate concepts developed to bring revenue to a school district. Children are not machines that require programming and updated, they are whole human beings equipped with the power of reasoning and problem solving. I don’t believe it is the fault of the teachers. New laws have taken teacher’s authority and creativity out of the classroom.


  1. Kali,

    I absolutely love your post. From what you described, it sounded like equal access for all children. Also, there is no test anxiety, which makes a world different for children and teachers.

    If we encourage this concept in U.S., would this eliminate the bullying, cliques, academic status, low self-esteem and so forth? I believe some of these would be easily eliminated within time frame.

    I remembered enjoying school so much that I wanted to attend. Now I look at my niece and nephew and they do not enjoy some things about school (ie: test, lousy teachers, bullying, etc). They do enjoy school for the purpose of social and exploration.

    In addition to that, my youngest cousin dropped out of high school, because he had severe test anxiety. He hated being pressured to take test every day in school. This shows how much our education system changed over the years from fun learning classroom to testing classroom.

    Thank you for sharing your information.

  2. I to believe that children should not be obligated to take test because like you said it is highly stressful and some children just do not do well on test due to test anxiety. I don't believe a test can measure what a child knows and has learned for that matter. I believe test just lowers the children's self esteem and that loss that motivation do do well when they don't do well on a test and they see the others do better.

    I also chose to write about the Finnish School System because I thought it was so interesting that children don't start school until they are seven and they have very little homework. Which in my opionion I don't think children should have homework because that is what school is for to teach them. If they bring homework home and need help there parents my not be able to help them and this is just doing to get the child frustrated because they don't know how to do the work and it is going to result in a bad grade and I just don't think that is right.

  3. Kali,

    I find that fascinating that so many countries around the world don't formally assess the way we do and their children seem to be more relaxed and doing well in school and in life. I do believe there is a direct link in the anger in our children and the testing we push in pre-k and kindergarten.

    Thank you for this informative post.

  4. Hi Kali,

    I absolutely agree with doing away with standardized testing. As a child, I still remember being worried about whether or not I did great on those test. I really don't see the importance of such a test. I still get that pressure of being overwhelmed and then going blank when I take test. Teachers are teaching for test sake. My children are were given strategies for test and would only learn the information that would be on the standardize test which is crazy to me. You bought up excellent points! Thank you for sharing Kali