15 Things More Important Than Passing Tests
by Sarah Major M.Ed.

There is so much out there to read.

Usually when online, I am in “scan-the-page mode”, clicking from article to article barely taking the time to read the intros, never mind the articles themselves.

But once in a while an article is so spot-on and so painfully relevant that it hooks me and keeps my focus clear to the end.

Recently I came across such an article in the Washington Post. I paused because it was about our schools. But I read on because of the content.

Our schools have been struggling in the aftermath of No Child Left Behind. Our teachers are being required to cover an increasing amount of content and to boost scores on a rising number of standardized tests. This required content is predominantly geared towards making sure children pass standardized tests. We have lost our way and are headed down the wrong path. It is important in times such as these to stop, clarify our goals, and then make a course correction.

Critical questions raised by teaching to the test:

1.    How long do children remember what they studied?
2.    How relevant is the information they studied? In other words, have they primarily learned little snippets of information without benefitting from the richness of real meaning?
3.    In what way will these snippets truly educate them? How prepared for life will they be?
4.    What is there about the snippets that will result in student motivation for learning – vs. motivation to just graduate or please their parents?

What matters the most as we educate our children? Isn’t it that they be prepared to live a full and successful life? That they be independent and possess a sense of competence? Don’t we want them to possess good social skills?

According to the author, (I couldn’t say it any better so here are his main points) these are the qualities we would want to instill in our children; here are 15 things that matter far more than passing tests:

Foundational Knowledge:

1.    know how to read and understand and use what you read
2.    write clearly and accurately as a means of expressing ones thoughts
3.    know basic math functions

Basic Life Skills:

1.    inventive problem solving
2.    teamwork
3.    communication
4.    figuring out complicated things

Character Traits:

1.    determination
2.    resourcefulness
3.    resiliency
4.    boldness or assertiveness

Important Capabilities:

1.    learning how to learn
2.    making good decisions
3.    setting and accomplishing ambitious goals
4.    learning how to make your world better

Let’s join together as we persist in keeping our eye on the goal of truly educating our children. The tests don’t matter and in many cases they cause harm. We can work together and effect change if we are clear on what we want and we ask for it respectfully and persistently until desired changes are made.
Sarah Major, CEO of Child1st Publications, grew up on the mission field with her four siblings, all of whom her mother homeschooled. As an adult, Sarah has homeschooled a small group of children in collaboration with their parents, and has taught from preschool age to adult. Sarah has been the Title 1 director and program developer for grades K-7, an ESOL teacher, and a classroom teacher. As an undergraduate student, Sarah attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. and then received her M.Ed. from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI. In 2006 Sarah resigned from fulltime teaching in order to devote more time to Child1st, publisher of the best-selling SnapWords™ stylized sight word cards. In her spare time Sarah enjoys gardening, cooking, pottery, quilting, and spending time with her family.

Child1st Publications, LLC