I wasn't born a test taker; instead I himmed and hawed over every single possibility of multiple choice answer, overanalyzing the test makers intent, knowing that there often was more than one correct answer. In Denmark, essays were the way we were judged, and yet, I knew that somehow I had to conform myself to whatever someone had decided was the proper way to analyze, summarize or infer. Whatever the method, the result was always the same, never as good as I wanted even though I had done all of the supposed right things to score high.
Now with the release of the new test results once again labeling the US as "average" at best, I wonder, how this will affect my students; our future. What new initiative will be developed in a hurry to push, push, push our students harder. Perhaps Saturday's will become school days after all so that we can study for the test. This obsession with testing and labeling, always ranking, as if those tests had something to do with the future success of these children. They don't and I tell my students that. Testing is just a snapshot of where you were at that moment in time, how well-rested you were, how focused, happy, engaged. Not a true view of what you really know, what you are capable of. Testing does not determine your future job, spouse, creativity or happiness.
I don't want to teach to the test. I don't want to make students into test takers. I want to help them become better, more creative, engaged, discover their talents, hone them, support them, inspire them. I want them to discover many possible ways to answer questions, not just conform to the one chosen by someone else. I want them to question. I wasn't born a test taker but I became one. I hope to spare that fate for my students.