Gifted kids and standardized tests
On October 19, the Department of Education released "The Nation's Report Card" -- results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). This periodic exercise always gets a lot of attention as we look at how the nation's 4th and 8th graders are doing on reading and math.
There are two long term trends:
1. Since 1992, reading proficiency has been absolutely flat.
2. Since 1992, mathematics proficiency has risen, by 25 points on a 500 point scale for 4th graders, and by 16 points on a 500 point scale for 8th graders.
While the latter sounds impressive, looking at some of the sample questions that only 50-60% of students get right at the NAEP website (http://nationsreportcard.gov/reading_math_2005/)
is kind of depressing. The questions are dull, frankly, and so is the reading material. Which is what brings me to the matter of gifted kids and standardized tests.
Yes, I understand that NAEP results are useful and necessary to crafting educational policies. Results are less robust if they doesn't include all students -- including those working several years above grade level. And in theory, participation in NAEP is voluntary for students. You can call in sick. Or sit in a corner.
BUT... I remember taking many a bland standardized test as a student. If you don't have to stretch your brain to take a grade-level test (and few gifted kids do), it's an exercise in profound boredom. It's even worse if, as many a test requires, you can't read quietly at your seat if you finish before the allotted time. The allotted time being eons longer than a gifted kid needs to answer "Which number could go at this point on this line?" in a line with an arrow pointed at the third of three slot marks between 5.4 and 6.2, you get a lot of time to think. I started making doodles, cryptic comments, even writing poems in the margins of the scratch paper you're allowed. I later learned this is what prison inmates do during lockdown when their things are seized from them.
Anyway, reading the results, I can't help but feel for gifted kids drafted into producing this NAEP data. Thanks to their sacrifice of hours of time, we now know that reading scores have been ... absolutely flat for 13 years.
Has anyone tried to get their kids out of standardized testing?