Kindergarten screening

test takerOn Tuesday afternoon I took my kids to the Early Childhood Education Center for my district so they could have play based screening.  We’ve done this before and it’s a great way to get a snapshot of the current development of my kids.  After a short wait we (my two kids, my wife and two screeners) went into a classroom so that they could observe them playing and assess their skills.  They assessed their large and small motor skills, cognitive development and language skills. They even checked their eyesight and hearing.  I’m happy to say they “passed” with flying colors.

As we were talking after the screening, I began to think about what my children had just gone through and I asked them if they enjoyed it.  The answer from both was a resounding “YES”.  What was it that made it fun?  They were asked to do tasks to assess their abilities and through those tasks, they were assessed on their abilities.  There were no paper bubbles to fill in (granted they’re 5) and it wasn’t a “standardized test”.  They were being assessed by their abilities that could be observed by professionals.  I’ve heard about other tests that are given to 5 year olds as a part of a screening (luckily I don’t know the names of them because I’ve never had the misfortune of seeing my child struggle through one).  As I understand it, the screener will ask a student to complete a task and then, with no expression or feedback, watch as the child completes it.  Either the child does, or does not complete said task and is given a specific amount of points based on how well they do it.

This reminded me of the MAP test (Missouri’s standardized test) that I have proctored for a number of years.  As I was giving the test I was not allowed to give any feedback to my students, provide direction or really even talk to them during the test.  I never thought that this was an effective method of testing but as I watched my own kids being “assessed”, those memories really came back to me.  I guess that’s just one of the things I have to continually look forward to as a parent who is also a teacher.

What would happen if we didn’t take grades as Alfie Kohn suggests?  What would education look like if all the concepts and instruction that our kids endure was instead discovery and project based?  Would my kids be unable to live in our society if they didn’t have to take a standardized test? Would they be prepared for jobs of the future if they had great collaborative and problem solving skills, but had not been through a traditional school environment in which a teacher imparts great amounts of knowledge in their general direction.  I have faith the my kids will find success in their future endeavors.  I also have faith in the school system in our country.  I don’t have faith in standardized tests.  Finally, I don’t have faith in those who don’t understand education because their decisions are based on “when they were in school”.

3 thoughts on “Kindergarten screening

  1. This post really hits home–I just heard that one of my students actually might drop honors because it could be the first B this student receives. I know this class has challenged my student to think about literature and life differently than before. It would be a shame if a grade got in the way of learning.

  2. Great post! Your reflection reminds me of how learning is really about problem solving. Sounds like your district has a strong understanding about what is most important for young learners.

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